Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Global tool estimates environmental impact of diets

Interactive infographics aid in understanding the nutritional and environmental impact of different diets across the globe.

New infographics unveiled by two branches of the United Nations highlight the environmental impact of individual food consumption worldwide.

These visuals developed by the FAO/WHO Global Individual Food Consumption Data Tool (FAO/WHO GIFT) initiative offer insights into the environmental footprint of diets among specific population groups.

The FAO/WHO GIFT initiative – led by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) - aims to make individual food consumption data more accessible and useful for stakeholders interested in nutrition data, such as policymakers and researchers.

By compiling data from 54 surveys across 33 countries, the online platform provides a comprehensive analysis of what people eat and drink, providing insights on nutrition, food safety, dietary diversity and environmental impact.

The development of this resource involved a PhD student at the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems.

Visual insights

The environmental infographics, which can be found on the FAO/WHO GIFT website, provide information on the environmental impact of diets through two distinct lenses, the research team explains.

The first set of infographics highlights the contribution of different foods and food groups to the environmental impact of diets observed in a given population, providing estimates for greenhouse gas emissions, land and water use.

This approach allows users to gain insights into the environmental consequences of dietary choices.

The second set of infographics estimates environmental impacts by quantifying the total greenhouse gas emissions, land and water use of the diet in relation to energy and nutrient intake.

These visuals bring together disparate elements of the food system, offering policymakers and researchers a comprehensive view of diet and its environmental implications, the research team explains.

Future impact

Potential future developments for the platform include refining environmental impact calculations to reflect regional variations and incorporating additional environmental indicators, such as algae overgrowth and soil acidification.

As the global community grapples with the intertwined challenges of nutrition and sustainability, the FAO/WHO GIFT initiative underscores the role of data-driven solutions in shaping a resilient future for healthy diets from sustainable food systems.

The release of these infographics marks a significant milestone in the quest for sustainable healthy diets. With their intuitive design and robust data insights, they are poised to empower stakeholders across sectors to make informed decisions towards healthier and more environmentally conscious food systems.

Jacqueline Tereza da Silva, PhD student, Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems (GAAFS)

Some high-income countries have their own platforms to share data, but many low-and-middle income countries do not have systems in place to do this. Through FAO/WHO GIFT, we advocate for data sharing and provide an accessible platform for stakeholders to explore and use individual-level dietary intake data.

Victoria Padula de Quadros, developer of FAO/WHO GIFT, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations

Related links

FAO/WHO GIFT data and infographics