The Bureau of Resilience, Environment, and Food Security (REFS) leads USAID’s integrated and inclusive approach to confront two of the most urgent and interconnected crises of our time: food security and climate change. Together, these challenges threaten our global development progress toward a more resilient, environmentally sustainable, and food secure world.
REFS coordinates across USAID Missions, Bureaus, and independent offices to foster a world in which all people have sustained access to safe water, nutritious food, a healthy environment, and improved livelihoods as a result of inclusive, locally driven development strategies that protect the planet and our future.
REFS supports our partner countries to protect and accelerate development progress by advancing efforts on agriculture-led growth; energy; infrastructure; climate change; biodiversity conservation; pollution; sustainable urbanization; resilience; nutrition; and water security, sanitation, and hygiene. Critical to these efforts is prioritizing equity and environmental justice through the empowerment of marginalized and underrepresented populations; this includes support for cross-cutting issues like youth empowerment, gender equality, and digital inclusion.
Through REFS, USAID leads Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. Guided by the Global Food Security Strategy, Feed the Future helps vulnerable countries build stronger food systems, better nutrition, and greater resilience to shocks.
REFS spearheads implementation of the U.S. Global Water Strategy, as part of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014. Under the Global Water Strategy, the U.S. government invests in water security to advance health, prosperity, stability, and resilience in the places they are needed the most.
Additionally, REFS leads or co-leads the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), the U.S. government's contribution to the global effort to address the impacts of the climate crisis; the U.S. Plan to Conserve Global Forests; the Just Energy Transition Partnership; the Save Our Seas Initiative; and the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment in coordination with the Department of State.
As part of these efforts, REFS hosts the Feed the Future Deputy Coordinator for Development, as well as the Agency’s Global Water Coordinator and Chief Climate Officer.
REFS also leads four of USAID’s Leadership Councils: Climate Change, Nutrition, Resilience, and Water. These Councils provide high-level coordination and integration of critical development efforts across the Agency.
The Bureau of Resilience, Environment, and Food Security is home to seven Centers that coordinate and lead efforts across USAID to provide strategic, programmatic, analytical, and global leadership within their respective areas:
The Center for Agriculture-Led Growth promotes transformational change of agriculture and food systems through thought leadership, Mission engagement, scaling of innovations and technologies, and research.
The Center for Climate-Positive Development advises USAID leadership and supports the implementation of USAID’s Climate Strategy, supporting climate action and a whole-of-Agency approach to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and help partner countries build resilience to climate change and advance towards a net-zero, equitable future.
The Center for Energy, Infrastructure, and Cities plans, develops, and sustainably manages aspects of our built environment by leading USAID’s work on energy, infrastructure, and urban environmental issues including air quality, transport, solid waste management, preventing ocean plastic pollution, and promoting a circular economy.
The Center for Natural Environment seeks to conserve and protect the natural environment for both people and nature. The work addresses the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change, and is a foundation to development. Specifically, the Center leads USAID’s work on biodiversity conservation, natural climate solutions, land and resource governance and addresses nature crimes.
The Center for Nutrition is responsible for strengthening linkages between USAID’s agriculture, nutrition, and health programs, and for promoting investments that enhance the quality and diversity of diets, particularly in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.
The Center for Resilience supports USAID’s response to emerging threats and helps reduce recurrent crises such as extreme weather events caused by the climate crisis by promoting risk management and resilience in the Agency’s strategies and programming.
The Center for Water Security, Sanitation and Hygiene leads USAID’s efforts to strengthen water and sanitation sectors, increase equitable access to safe and reliable water, improve climate-resilient conservation and management of water resources, and reduce conflict and fragility related to increasingly scarce resources, all strategic objectives of the U.S. Global Water Strategy.
REFS also houses offices that provide technical expertise, policy analysis, programmatic guidance, and operational support to the Bureau and to USAID’s Missions, Bureaus, and independent offices.