Qu Dongyu, the Director-General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has intimated that foods that end up in loss and waste costs the global economy $400 billion.
The issue of food loss and waste is normally overlooked, but it still remains crucial for meeting the UN’s SDG goals, as a staggering 800 million people still go to bed hungry.
Therefore, for the UN, not only is preventing food loss and waste crucial to the world’s population, it is also essential for the planet.
He made these remarks in a video message together with other UN Agencies to mark an online commemorative event, yesterday, September 29, 2021.
“We cannot continue to lose 14 per cent of food produced globally and to waste 17 per cent of total food in households, retailers, restaurants and other food services. This amounts to a loss of $400 billion a year in food value,” said Qu Dongyu.
In his address, Mr. Qu highlighted “the need to step-up global cooperation to transform food systems, from farm to fork,” in line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Specifically, Goal 12 which centres on ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns, includes a specific target to halve per capita global food waste by 2030.
Some Food systems are contributors of climate change
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) remarked that food systems and consumption practices, which use up precious water and land resources, are major contributors to the triple crises afflicting the planet: climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
She listed some of the multiple benefits of reducing the “heavy” burden of food waste and loss: “Food security, obviously”, she underscored. “Cost savings at all levels, climate mitigation, a reduced burden of pollution, and reduced use of water and land. Protection for biodiversity by using existing agricultural land more efficiently, and so, reducing the push for expansion is also critical.”
Africa remains third biggest emitter
In Africa, the value of lost food exceeds the annual value of grain imports, according to Amir Mahmoud Abdulla, Deputy Executive Director at the World Food Programme (WFP).
Already struggling with food insecurity, this is compounded and eventually affects the environment through the waste of precious land, water, farming inputs and energy to produce food that is not eventually eaten.
“In fact, current levels of food loss caused more than three billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to be emitted, meaning that if food waste were to be a country it would be the third biggest emitter of carbon emission.”Amir Mahmoud Abdulla, Deputy Executive Director at the World Food Programme (WFP).
“This is really important for us all to remember as we head to the UN climate conference COP 26 in Glasgow,” he noted.
Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) noted that to achieve the 2030 goal, countries should speed up efforts and encourage collective action.
“This International Day is one way for us all to come together to promote interventions that reduce food loss and contribute to achieving more sustainable food systems. Together, we can scale up solutions for reducing food loss,” said Mr. Houngbo.
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