During a recent session at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, food waste experts discussed the policies and programs that can help to reduce food loss and waste globally. The session, organized by the Global FoodBanking Network and Danone, was held at the Food Systems Pavilion.
As much as 40 percent of the food produced in the world goes uneaten, contributing to approximately 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to estimates from WWF.
“There has been a significant uptick in government action on food loss and waste since 2014,” says Lisa Moon, President and CEO, Global FoodBanking Network. Among other achievements, nine countries have passed major legislation on food loss and waste frameworks that they didn’t have before, she says. And eight have prioritized liability protections to encourage the donation of surplus food.
But progress is still needed. The number of countries that have addressed food loss and waste through their nationally determined contributions (NDCs)—non-binding national plans to address the climate crisis—still sits in the teens, Craig Hanson, Managing Director and Executive Vice President for Programs at the World Resources Institute, says.
These plans, as well as food loss and waste reduction targets, are important, Hanson continues because “targets set ambition, ambition motivates action.”
Amanda McKee, Director of Knowledge and Learning at NDC Partnership argues that it is necessary to help countries understand “what the opportunities are” and show that support is available. This means “ensuring the right people are around the table from the beginning.”
Financial and philanthropic organizations can leverage their resources and provide the funding that is needed to drive progress, the panelists note. But nonprofit organizations working on the ground in communities are also key.
“Countries must recognize the importance of food banks in feeding people, in building healthy, resilient, sustainable food systems,” says Shenggen Fan, Chair Professor in the College of Economics and Management at China Agricultural University.
These nonprofit organizations can successfully divert excess food to those most in need. “The best way to prevent food waste once surpluses have occurred is through food donation,” says Mariana Jiménez, CEO of BAMX, a network of food banks in Mexico. She argues that these organizations also need funding and support to increase their capacity.
Focusing attention and channeling funds toward this this issue is essential, says Fabrice
Investment in and attention on this space is essential, says Fabrice Salamanca, Vice President of Global Public Affairs at Danone, because without progress on food loss and waste, food systems transformation is “impossible.”
Watch the full conversation from COP28 HERE.
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