Environment at GAIN

At GAIN we consider how our work to increase access to healthy diets for all intersects with several dimensions of environmental sustainability including climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, water quality and scarcity, soil degradation and plastic waste.

Definition of environment at GAIN

In general, we aim to promote a sustainable food system which does not compromise the ability of our planet to provide nutrition for generations to come.
The current GAIN Strategy 2022 – 2027 puts environment at its core. It set out these goals:
“Engaging nature. We will design and implement our work to positively link nutrition to climate and the environment. We want to make GAIN the greenest nutrition organization both operationally and programmatically. This will make us a more responsible partner and help us accelerate advancements in nutrition outcomes”

Read about The Initiative on Climate Action and Nutrition (I-CAN)

What is the link to nutrition, food systems and policy pathways?

Nutrition and the environment are deeply interconnected. Climate change, for instance, has an adverse effect on the yields and nutritional quality of major staple crops, which raises the risk of food insecurity and malnutrition. Furthermore, food systems can have a damaging impact on the environment, contributing to 80% of deforestation and one-third of greenhouse gas emissions.
In general, nutrition and food have been undervalued in the discussion on managing climate change and biodiversity, just as the nutrition community has tended to ignore sustainability issues. This is changing, in particular the framework for food shifted markedly via the 2021 Food Systems Summit which places diets, environment, climate, livelihoods and rights together for the first time in global development thinking. We also saw tentative steps to open the door to more inclusion of food and nutrition at the climate COP27 in 2022.


Our approach: How do we act on this?

GAIN's Environment Strategy is built around three pillars:

  1. Programmes
  2. Advocacy
  3. Operations

1. Programmatic interventions

Environmental considerations are incorporated into GAIN’s programmes at different levels, aiming to both ensure that all of GAIN’s work is sensitive to environmental considerations while also developing programmes which explicitly seek to address environment alongside nutrition and advance knowledge on how to do this. We consider three models for how environment is incorporated into GAIN’s programmes:

 As part of GAIN’s Nourishing Food Pathways (NFP) portfolio, starting in 2023, Workstream 5 explicitly aims to align nutrition and environment goals and action. We will be working to find ways to increase access to foods, both animal and plant-based in a way which maximises nutrition impacts and minimises environmental harms in 3 countries (Indonesia, Bangladesh and Mozambique). Through this work, we aim to build knowledge and approaches which can be applied in other countries and by partners.

Several programmes within GAIN have significant positive co-benefits for environment although their primary oal is to improve access to healthy and nutritious food. AFor example, in Pakistan, GAIN has worked with dairy companies to develop a nutritious drink which can be produced from whey waste-streams from cheese production. Initial scoping efforts have indicated that as much as 20,000 L / day per company could be diverted, helping to increase the amount of nutritious food available, decreasing food loss without increasing the environmental footprint of production while also preventing pollution from inappropriately disposed whey.

GAIN’s Environmental Screening Tool is a self-assessment tool to enable a rapid self-assessment for projects, which identifies any environment-related risk factors and prompts mitigation actions, as well as encouraging teams to explore opportunities for environment-nutrition win-wins. The tool and process were piloted throughout 2022 with a diverse set of 10 GAIN projects. GAIN has published a working paper on the Environment Screening Tool and formed a Community of Practice where various organisations could share and learn on this critical topic.

2. Policy and Advocacy

GAIN aims to raise awareness about and inspire action around the intrinsic link between food systems, nutrition, and the environment among policymakers and other decision makers.  While GAIN has predominantly focused on global initiatives so far it plans to expand its engagement to the national level through the NFP program. We aim to build partnerships with environment organizations and agreed an MOU with WWF in 2021.

One significant advocacy GAIN leads is the Initiative on Climate Action and Nutrition (I-CAN) launched at the climate COP27 with the Government of Egypt, FAO, WHO and SUN. I-CAN aims to catalyze, mobilize, connect and advocate for integrated climate and nutrition action. As part of this work GAIN will publish a report in October 2023 outlining the extent to which action is currently integrated across policy (such as National Climate Adaptation Plans and National Nutrition Plans), research and data and finance.

3. Operations

To address GAIN’s own environmental impacts, we plan to set a baseline and measure our progress towards reducing the footprint from our own operations. GAIN approved a travel policy in 2021 including a commitment to halve CO2 emissions/ FTE by 50% by 2025 compared with pre-COVID levels of travel and put in place carbon offsetting in place for work-related travel.
In each GAIN office, interested staff lead efforts to ‘green our offices’ to reduce energy and water use, reduce waste and increase awareness of environmental issues. and once a year we celebrate “Green Week at GAIN”.


Contact us

Submit your inquiry and we will contact you

Send us an email