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Transforming agri-food systems to make them more efficient, inclusive and sustainable is key to prevent food loss and waste from continuing to undermine efforts to eradicate hunger, improve nutrition and reduce the strain on natural resources and the environment.
This was the message that resonated today from an event during which the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), together with partners, marked International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste.
Globally, around 14 percent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail. This equates to a loss of $400 billion per year in food value, while an estimated 17 percent of total global food production is wasted (11 percent in households, 5 percent in the food service and 2 percent in retail).
“We need to accelerate progress in achieving SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) target 12.3 by 2030 to halve global food waste and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said, warning that we only have “nine (harvest) seasons remaining to do so.”
“Food loss and waste account for up to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. They use up precious land and water resources for, essentially, nothing,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “Putting a serious dent in food loss and waste will slow climate change, protect nature and increase food security – at a time when we desperately need these things to happen.”
Today’s ceremony took place on the second observance of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste which was instituted by the UN in 2019. It also included messages from, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres; Italy’s Minister of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, Stefano Patuanelli; Slovenia’s Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Joze Podgorsek; European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides; International Fund for Agriculture Development President, Gilbert F. Houngbo and World Food Programme Deputy Executive Director, Amir Abdulla.
In his welcoming message, FAO Chief Economist Maximo Torero Cullen noted that the presence of different partners at this event shows that “no one entity alone can tackle the issue of food loss and waste. It is essential we move to action and tackle the determinants of food loss and waste.”
Rwanda’s Director General for Environment and Climate Change, Beatrice Cyiza, contributed to an expert roundtable panel on accelerating the pace of food loss and waste reduction toward improving agri-food systems outcomes.
The ceremony followed on the heels of last week’s UN Food Systems Summit whose outcomes include the creation of a Coalition on Food is Never Waste to implement action to reduce food loss and waste at country level. In parallel, FAO is also hosting the G20 Technical Platform on Food Loss and Waste, and the Food Coalition initiated by the Government of Italy.