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At least 40 percent of all food that’s produced is wasted. According to WWF, food waste is responsible for about 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s four times more than the global airline industry.
Celebrity Chef Bobby Chinn calls addressing food loss and waste low-hanging fruit, which can be done “in a more accelerated manner” than a lot of other climate solutions.
“Food waste is a lack of imagination,” says Paul Newnham, Director of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 Advocacy Hub, during our Food4Climate Pavilion panels yesterday.
Speakers agreed we need cultural shift in how we all value food. And education is a key tool to reduce waste.
“[We need to] get to that level where everyone understands you are better off reusing what you have, you are better off reducing the waste you are generating and recycling whatever you have,” says Desmond Alugnoa, Co-Founder of the Green Africa Youth Organization.
David Jackson, Director of Marketing & Public Affairs at Winnow, emphasizes that “we need to remove blame from the conversation” about food waste. Instead, those working in a stressful environment, like chefs, need more resources and support—because we’re all working towards the same goals.
“Food waste is one of the very few topics that you can get everyone to say there’s a win-win-win if we can solve this,” says Megan Morikawa, Global Director of Sustainability at Iberostar Group.
Right now, just 21 countries have food loss and waste included in their NDCs. And as Lisa Moon of The Global FoodBanking Network shared, the majority of governments have no incentives for—or even actively disincentivize—solutions like food donations. Instead, most changes happen within local communities.
“You can put all these goals that you want, you can shine these fancy banners around reduction, but it still comes down to what happens at that local level, and that’s the most difficult part,” says Pete Pearson of WWF.
Throughout this week, speakers have emphasized the importance of investment and support at the local level for meeting a range of climate goals.
“If we want to talk about biodiversity, we should be looking to the people who know how to do it and have been doing it for 30,000 upwards years in their territories,” says Rupa Marya, Physician and Author of Inflamed, at our Food Systems Pavilion panel yesterday.
Indigenous peoples—less than 5 percent of the world’s population—protect 80 percent of the Earth’s biodiversity. These communities need resources, capital, and support in their role as stewards of the land and Earth.
“A biodiverse ecosystem is a resilient one,” says Arjun Hausner of Impossible Foods.
Here are some other important takeaways from COP27 negotiations and discussions:
Reuters reported on Tuesday that the world is making little progress on food waste. While many nations pledged in 2015 to halve food waste by 2030, few are on track to do so, according to the leaders interviewed. Many blame a lack of federal leadership and resource allocation.
“What real focus would look like on this topic would be for each of these agencies to dedicate staff, to give those staff funding to implement things,” says Dana Gunders, executive director of ReFED.
Meanwhile, there is a debate over whether nations should continue with the 1.5-degree target that has been central to many of the COP27 discussions.
“When I arrived here, I got a really strong sense of backsliding,” Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, tells The New York Times. “Every increase of a tiny fraction of a degree is harmful, and we have to claw to prevent going above 1.5.”
And Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Sil told crowds at COP27 that “Brazil is back on the world stage.” After deforestation of the Amazon reached record highs under President Jair Bolsonaro, President-elect Lula met with young Brazilian activists this week and called for the next COP to be held in the Amazon.
But Lula won the presidency by a narrow margin, and some question how productive he can be with a divided government. (Read more on BBC.)
For Food Tank’s final day of programming at COP27 today, we’re tackling a big topic: Transforming Value Chains and Developing Inclusive Markets (Food Systems Pavilion, 10:00–11:45AM EET / 3:00–4:45AM ET / 12:00–1:45AM PT).
First, we’ll explore how to build a truly just transition for farmers, ranchers, and eaters with Didier Toubia, Aleph Farms; Estrella Penunia-Banzuela, Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development; Chief Caleen Sisk, Spiritual Leader and Hereditary Chief, Winnemem Wintu Tribe; Nico Janssen, IKEA Foundation; Gernot Laganda, U.N. World Food Programme; and Anne Jellema, Hivos.
Then, we will discuss eaters as changemakers with Fabricio Muriana, Associado do Instituto Regenera; Lasse Bruun, 50by40; Brent Loken, WWF; and Steph Spyro, Daily Express.
And finally, to talk about the role of private and public partnerships to achieve a just transition, I will be joined by Naglaa Ahmed, Egyptian Biodynamic Association; Thomas Iseman, The Nature Conservancy; and Keegan Kautzky, World Food Prize Foundation. (Register to attend in person HERE or follow the live stream HERE.)
I hope you join us for some or all of these important conversations, and I encourage you to check out some of our partners’ events. #FoodCOP27 may be coming close to an end, but there are still many more exciting discussions to follow.
What I’m Thinking About as COP27 Negotiations Continue:
- “1.5 has to be alive,” says Irish Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan. “I think it’s still possible…the political will behind that is going to be very important.” Ryan responded at a media briefing to the fears of attempts to backslide on efforts to keep the 1.5-degree goal. (Read more on Irish Times.)
- A draft text released this week gave two possible options for a COP27 decision on loss and damage: establishing a loss and damage fund by late 2024, or engaging in two years of technical work on whether to address it through a “mosaic” of funding arrangements. Molwyn Joseph, the outgoing chair of Alliance of Small Island States, says moving forward without a fund to address loss and damage “would be a severe setback for future COPs.” (Read more on Bloomberg.)
Powerful Quotes from Today’s Discussions:
- “Education, personal experience with food is very, very important.” — Raphaël Podselver, Director of U.N. Affairs, ProVeg International
- “Cities are the biggest consumers of food. At the same time, cities have huge issues with waste management…and cities can’t afford to not do something around food,” — Dana Omran, Global Director Strategy and Operations, Resilient Cities Network
- “Philanthropy needs to put its neck out, recruit other funders, create unexpected alliances, and really be leaders that can bear some of the risk to smooth the pathway forward for others to step in.” — Sara Farley, Vice President, Global Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation
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Photo courtesy of Ives Ives, Unsplash