Combating climate change and hunger: WFP innovations at Greentech Festival 2024

WFP Innovation Accelerator
8 min readMay 7, 2024


Photo: WFP/Simon Pierre Diouf

By Julia Dalibor

As global temperatures continue to rise, the links between climate change and food scarcity are becoming impossible to ignore. In response, former Formula 1 champion and greentech entrepreneur Nico Rosberg co-founded the Greentech Festival in 2018. This pioneering event gathers a diverse array of stakeholders (start-ups, major corporations, environmental activists, politicians, researchers, and CEOs) to advance green technology. In 2024, the WFP Innovation Accelerator will participate again, presenting four innovations that address climate and food challenges at the UN World Food Programme’s Climate X Hunger Pitch Slam.

Keep reading to delve deeper into the connection between climate change and hunger, and meet our four innovative teams presenting at the Hunger Pitch Slam in Berlin.

The connection between climate change and hunger

Global food insecurity remains high. Up to 309 million people are facing acute levels of food insecurity in 2024 in the 72 countries with WFP operations and where data is available. An estimated 42.3 million people across 45 countries will be in Emergency or worse levels of acute food insecurity. Without urgent life-saving action, these populations will be at risk of falling into even worse conditions that could even bring famine, highlighting the severe impacts of recent global crises on food security.

Climate change exacerbates these challenges by intensifying water-related hazards like floods and droughts, which severely disrupt food production and access to clean water. Over 70 percent of the world’s food-insecure populations live in areas where water scarcity or land degradation compounds their struggles. Additionally, about a quarter of the global population depends on unsafe drinking water, increasing the risk of malnutrition linked to waterborne diseases.

WFP’s high-energy biscuits are being distributed to 6,100 survivors of the Bushushu floods in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2023. Photo: FSC/Martin Lukongo

In response, the World Food Programme (WFP) is actively deploying innovative solutions that address the nexus of climate change and food security, all while working toward Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030. Central to this effort is the WFP Innovation Accelerator, the innovation unit of WFP that identifies, supports and scales high-impact innovations and adaptive solutions to support those in the most vulnerable and fragile environments. The WFP Innovation Accelerator serves as a catalyst, enabling WFP’s internal teams and external startups to develop, improve and scale their solutions.

Greentech Festival 2024: Climate innovation in action

Climate-focused innovations supported by WFP are already disrupting hunger and addressing the climate emergency. At this year’s Greentech Festival in Berlin, innovators from the WFP Innovation Accelerator’s climate-focused portfolio will be participating as part of this global platform that aims to empower changemakers and foster innovative green technologies for a sustainable future.

Within the Greentech Festival’s Conference programme, WFP will present the ‘UN World Food Programme’s Climate X Hunger Pitch Slam: Innovating for a World Without Hunger.’ This session will provide four innovators with a platform to showcase their innovative climate- and food-focused solutions in front of an expert panel and festival attendees. Following their presentations, these innovators will have the chance to be voted into the Green Startup Slam Final by the panel and audience. The selected innovator will then compete against top-tier startups from other Greentech Festival Start-Up Slams, showcasing their ideas on a grand stage.

Innovators pitching at the UN World Food Programme’s Climate X Hunger Pitch Slam at the Greentech Festival 2023. Photo: WFP

Below is a short overview of the participating teams you can see pitch live at the Greentech Festival:

Emerging Cooking Solutions

The use of dirty fuels and inefficient stoves for cooking poses significant environmental and health risks to billions of people worldwide. Transitioning to clean cooking systems is crucial, yet it remains a daunting challenge due to barriers such as cost, accessibility and sustainability, particularly in low-income communities.

Enter Emerging Cooking Solutions (ECS), a trailblazer in the clean cooking space, pioneering an innovative delivery model known as the “Utility Model.” This approach enables low-income communities to borrow modern stoves. These users commit to purchasing biomass pellets monthly at a 40 percent lower price compared to charcoal, making the transition to clean fuels more economically feasible. ECS’s solution also integrates these modern stoves with an Internet of Things (IoT) system, enabling the collection of data and monitoring of stove usage. These real-time insights allow ECS and its users to quantify the tangible impact of clean cooking on time saving, cost savings and health outcomes.

Women gathering around a stove created by Emerging Cooking Solutions. Photo: WFP

In collaboration with the WFP Zambia Country Office, ECS’ pilot has provided 300 cooking stoves to Saving Groups in Lusaka, benefiting 1786 people with the opportunity to prepare meals cleanly and efficiently. This initiative marks the beginning of a larger vision, as ECS aims to reach a minimum of 1 million households over 10 years, catalysing widespread change in clean cooking accessibility.


Up to 30 percent of the world’s food production goes to waste annually, including in countries such as Rwanda where access to post-harvest facilities is limited. Coupled with this challenge is the pervasive issue of food insecurity, affecting hundreds of millions globally due to various factors, including the affordability of food.

Rebug2Debug is an innovation that tackles both food waste and food insecurity. At the heart of the innovation is the Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL), a native insect to Rwanda’s region. By processing organic waste, the BSFL not only generates high-quality organic fertilizer (five times faster than conventional composting methods) but also produces protein-rich animal feed.

A close-up of the Rebug2Debug fertilizer. Photo: WFP/Silvia Sironi

Rebug2Debug’s solution represents a circular economy approach, aiming to enhance smallholder farmers’ productivity in Rwanda. By providing farmers with access to affordable organic fertilizer derived from BSFL, the initiative reduces the cost of agricultural production. Moreover, the production process of this fertilizer prevents the emission of two tons of CO2 equivalent per ton of fertilizer produced, contributing to a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Located in Rwanda’s eastern province the initiative’s immediate focus is on reaching 2,500 smallholder farmers with their fertilizer during the first half of 2024 before scaling up to 10,000 farmers by the end of 2024.


In its mission to combat land degradation and drive impactful change through initiatives like the Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) programme, WFP faces a critical need: scientifically sound evidence of the initiative’s climate and environmental impact. To facilitate this, WFP needs to be able to measure how much carbon is in plants and soil, and how it changes over time. This is a big challenge that involves both global data and local knowledge.

SoilWatch is a cutting-edge solution that combines Earth Observation and AI technologies to conduct environmental and climate impact assessments of land-based interventions. By harnessing a robust dataset collected from the field, comprising soil and biomass samples, SoilWatch fills the knowledge gap, providing decision-makers with granular insights into local developments and environmental degradation across WFP countries. This not only informs strategic planning but also unlocks funding avenues for FFA participants and other programme participants through climate financing mechanisms.

Looking ahead, SoilWatch charts a pathway to scale within the WFP ecosystem. Its software-driven and automatable service model positions it for seamless integration into AIMS (Adaptive Implementation and Monitoring Solution), a strategic move poised to expand its reach across over 20 countries. This integration holds the promise of extending SoilWatch’s impact to an estimated 10 million people, amplifying its role as a catalyst for informed decision-making and sustainable development.

Desert Control

Agriculture and food production already consume more than 70 percent of all available freshwater. Desertification and soil degradation further increase water consumption, threatening agricultural productivity and water resources across the globe. With the global population growing, we will require more food in the next 40 years than was produced over the last 500 years, putting even more pressure on vital resources such as water.

Enter Desert Control, an ecological technology innovation, pioneering a solution called Liquid Natural Clay (LNC). The liquid-based formula is designed to be sprayed directly onto sandy soils, where it seeps down to create a moisture-retentive layer that significantly enhances the soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients. This process not only cuts water usage by up to 50 percent but also boosts crop yields by 20 to 60 percent, making it a game-changer in arid agricultural zones.

Sand structure from LNC-treated sand in comparison to non-treated sand. Photo: DesertControl

Desert Control’s technology has undergone rigorous testing in environments like the UAE, demonstrating substantial benefits in water conservation and soil improvement. In partnership with WFP Iraq, Desert Control is set to implement a pilot that could redefine sustainable agriculture in arid regions.

Meet the WFP Innovation Accelerator at Greentech Festival in Berlin

This year’s Greentech Festival programme includes keynotes, panel discussions, boot camps and deep-dive sessions, enabling the exchange of ideas centred on sustainable business solutions. WFP is participating in two sessions on Thursday, 16 May 2024 and Friday, 17 May 2024.

UN World Food Programme’s Climate X Hunger Pitch Slam: Innovating for a World Without Hunger. The ongoing climate emergency is a key driver of the global food crisis. Witness four innovators from WFP’s climate-focused innovation portfolio pitch their green solutions to feed the world. Thursday, 16 May 2024, 10:30–11:30 CET, DEEPDIVE STAGE, Berlin Messe.

Green Startup Slam. One startup from each startup slam from the solution stages will be chosen to pitch in front of the entire GTF Conference audience on our main stage. Friday, 17 May 2024, 10:20–10:50 CET, MAIN STAGE, Berlin Messe.

Feeding the Planet — Will Foodtech Save Us? Bernhard Kowatsch, Head of the WFP Innovation Accelerator, will join a panel discussion exploring the transformative potential of FoodTech in reshaping our food systems on a climate-impacted planet. Alongside esteemed speakers, he will be accompanied on stage by WFP Innovation Accelerator alumni, S4S, represented by co-founder Nidhi Pant. This session promises to delve into innovative strategies to improve how we eat, grow, and produce food in response to global climate challenges. Friday, 17 May 2024, 15:30–16:00 CET, MAIN STAGE, Berlin Messe.

Visit the official Greentech Festival site for more information and tickets for both sessions.

The WFP Innovation Accelerator sources, supports and scales high-potential solutions to end hunger worldwide. We provide WFP colleagues, entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies, and non-governmental organisations with access to funding, mentorship, hands-on support, and WFP’s global operations.

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WFP Innovation Accelerator

Sourcing, supporting and scaling high-impact innovations to disrupt hunger.