End of year letter 2022

WFP Innovation Accelerator
4 min readDec 20, 2022

2022 — Innovating to help solve the global food crisis, the climate crisis and other global problems

Dear friends and supporters,

In 2022, the world faced one of the worst humanitarian crises since World War II. The emergence of a global food crisis, with 345 million people now marching towards starvation. This was exacerbated by conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19, and the war in Ukraine, further increasing the cost of food and fuel. The need for innovative solutions has never been more important than right now.

The innovators and startups who work with our WFP Innovation Accelerator team, global WFP colleagues, partners and supporters again pioneered new solutions to help improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people across the globe — whether they suffer from hunger, the effects of the climate crisis or other global problems.

As we look back at 2022, I want to share some key lessons and inspirations with you:

1. Climate Action Innovation Challenge: This year, we ran our first dedicated innovation challenge and accelerator programme focused purely on climate action and food security. Working with climate experts in the WFP programme division and WFP country offices, we specifically sought solutions with the most significant impact potential.

WFP Innovation Pitch Event on the climate crisis. Photo: WFP/Sanjna Sudan.

2. Scaling innovations is a skill that requires bringing together the best innovators with the support they need. We published a “How to Bring Projects to Scale” guidance to share more of our experience with the wider community.

3. Leveraging the WFP innovation network was a strategic priority this year, working with dedicated WFP regional innovation hubs for East Africa in Nairobi, Latin America and the Caribbean in Colombia and country-based innovation units in Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan and Jordan. This network brought tailored innovation support, unique value, and expertise to the region.

4. Our SDGx Acceleration programme continued to expand its work with other United Nations entities and partners in running their accelerator programmes as a service for global problems like healthcare, vaccines, and gender equality. This year we challenged ourselves to create end-to-end acceleration programmes, most notably a new Humanitarian Accelerator programme co-sponsored by Luxembourg and Austria.

5. Pioneering innovative finance for humanitarian purposes, WFP engaged with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) to create WFP Bridge, a loan fund to help scale startups and innovations and further develop the SheCan micro-loan platform for the promotion of women’s economic empowerment.

6. Through frontier innovations, we explored the use of artificial intelligence for next-level response and blockchain technology for cash transfers to food-insecure people. Together with the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) we are exploring the “Food for crisis web3 initiative” with a moonshot target to raise USD 1 billion to tackle the current food crisis and invest in sustainable innovations to end hunger.

7. As part of our Global Accelerator Platform, we sought to engage other innovation leaders. We teamed up with Google for Startups, receiving cutting-edge knowledge and support for our programmes. We collaborated with the World Economic Forum on their first-ever Humanitarian and Resilience Investing Challenge to find investable startups.

8. Bringing together an unusual mix of partners, we supported the first-ever official startup challenge and pitch event at COP27 with the Government of Egypt, USAID, Google, and Microsoft. We also brought some of our innovators, investors and climate grantmakers together at COP27 to reimagine scaling innovations for climate action.

WFP Innovation Accelerator pitch event at COP27. Photo: WFP/Kristen Arnold

9. Innovation is not just about startups, but is also critical for innovation teams. As such, we completed a strategy refresh for the WFP Innovation Accelerator and further pushed the boundaries of new ways of working, organising our team around purpose, accountability, and more agile self-organisation, using a “circle” visual rather than traditional top-down hierarchies.

10. This year, we were humbled to receive four prestigious Anthem Awards, which recognize social impact worldwide. And finally, my TED Talk highlighting how a mindset shift can help tackle the world’s biggest challenges has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.

Throughout 2023, we look forward to building and serving global communities together. With our diverse Innovation Accelerator team paving the way and a community like yours collaborating with us, I am hopeful we can make a difference in the future.


Bernhard Kowatsch

Click here to read more insights from our impactful 2022.



WFP Innovation Accelerator

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