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Global leaders commit to food waste fight

Global leaders commit to food waste fight
A new coalition has today (21 January) been launched to ‘inspire ambition and mobilise action’ to reduce food waste and loss globally.

Champions 12.3, a coalition of 30 CEOs, government ministers, executives of research institutions, farmer organisations and civil society groups, was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos and aims to accelerate progress toward meeting target 12.3 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which seeks to halve per capita food waste by 2030.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a third of all food is lost or wasted between the farm and the fork. Furthermore, this food loss and waste amounts to US$940 billion (£665 billion) in global annual economic losses. It also consumes about one quarter of all water used by agriculture, requires cropland area the size of China, and generates about eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

A statement released by the group upon its launch states: ‘Reducing food loss and waste can be a triple win: it can save money for farmers, companies, and households; wasting less can feed more people; and reductions can alleviate pressure on climate, water, and land resources.’

The coalition says that its champions will work to create political, business and social momentum to reduce food loss. It intends to do this by:

  • leading by example on how to reduce food loss and waste;
  • motivating others to meet SDG target 12.3;
  • communicating the importance of food loss and waste reduction;
  • showcasing successful food loss and waste reduction strategies; and
  • advocating for more innovation, greater investment, better information, and increased capacity to reduce food loss and waste.

Concerted and sustained action

Dave Lewis, Group Chief Executive of Tesco, has been named as the Chair of Champions 12.3. Commenting on the launch, he said: “Reducing food loss and waste is a significant global challenge and it’s very important that business plays its part… This is an opportunity for businesses to work together and make a real difference to target 12.3.”

Research conducted by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates that the UK wastes 15 million tonnes of food a year, nearly three million of which is destroyed by farmers.

WRAP CEO Liz Goodwin, who is also a 12.3 Champion added: “In a world of dwindling resources and population increases, future generations are set to face challenges in supplying demand. It is therefore vital that concerted and sustained action is taken to help rectify this situation across the world.

“This is why WRAP will continue to tackle food waste in the UK long term through Love Food Hate Waste and our new voluntary agreement Courtauld Commitment 2025 and will increasingly work internationally in order that reductions can be realised globally. Collaboration is key to achieving this aim, so WRAP is both honoured to be a Champion for the Sustainable Development [Goal] 12.3, and is committed to working with other champions, governments, business and international organisations to help achieve this challenging target.”

Addressing ‘colossal problem’ challenging but achievable

Tristram Stuart, Founder of food waste campaigning charity Feedback, took part in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s BBC documentary series looking at food waste in the UK and was involved in setting up the coalition. Responding to the Davos announcement, he said: "It is immensely satisfying that the global outcry against food waste, echoing throughout the supply chain, from farmers down to citizens, has now been amplified and crystallised by the United Nations in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“It is ambitious; it will be challenging but achievable; above all else, if we strive to work together, we can make the solutions to this colossal problem delicious and nutritious, helping to feed the world and save the planet in the one swoop."

YieldWise

Alongside the coalition, today’s meeting at Davos also saw the launch of The Rockefeller Foundation’s new YieldWise initiative, a seven-year, US$130-million (£92-million) commitment to halving food loss and waste globally.

Through YieldWise, The Rockefeller Foundation will engage private, nonprofit, and government actors across the food supply system, focusing on linking small and big businesses that can mutually benefit from diversified sources for products and enhanced markets. The foundation will make targeted investments toward dramatically reducing food waste generated by retail outfits and consumers across the US and Europe.

The foundation’s President, Dr Judith Rodin, is also a 12.3 Champion. She said: “The amount of food lost or wasted before it ever reaches a table is simply unacceptable, with devastating impacts on people, profit, and planet, yet it’s a challenge that can be prevented with a blend of existing solutions, from technologies that help farmers keep more of what they grow to models for private-sector engagement that ensure those crops will be bought, rather than left to rot.”

A full list of the ‘Champions 12.3’ and more information can be found on the coalition’s website.