New Initiative To Tackle Global Food Loss And Waste Launched In Davos

(3BL Media/JustMeans) Food waste and loss is a big deal. About one third of global food production (around 30 to 40 percent) is wasted or lost every year, according to the UN Food and and Agriculture Organization. The value of food lost or wasted annually at the global level is estimated at $1 trillion. The global population is on track to grow by two billion by 2050. A 70 percent increase in agricultural yield would be required to feed nine billion people under present food production trends. That would also require an annual investment of $83 billion in developing countries.

A coalition of 30 leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos launched Champions 12.3 to mobilize action to reduce food loss and waste globally. The aim of Champions 12.3 is to help meet target 12.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to halve food loss and waste by 2030. Champions include CEOS of major companies, government ministers, and executives of research and intergovernmental institutions, foundations, farmer organizations, and civil society groups. 

“The idea of Champions 12.3 was born at the “No More Food to Waste” conference in The Hague in June 2015,” Craig Hanson, Global Director of Food, Forests, and Water Programs for World Resources Institute told JustMeans. Hanson said the conference participants noted that some of the UN’s Millennium Development Goal targets “made a lot of progress.” The “ idea was born to create such a coalition around the SDG target about food loss and waste,” he added.

The Dutch government called for Champions 12.3 to be formed at UN General Assembly events last September. And as Hanson said, “the rest is history.”
The Champions plan to inspire action through several ways, including leading by example, motivating others to meet SDG target 12.3, and advocating for more innovation and greater investment to reduce food waste. The initiative is significant because it “is the first coalition of global executives to rally around an SDG Target,” as Hanson put it. Champions 12.3 has leaders from all sectors who “need to play a role to take a big bite out of food loss and waste,” Hanson said. 

The Champions include global companies like Tesco, Unilever and Nestlé who are already “pioneering how to reduce food waste from retail stores, customer’s homes, and suppliers’ fields,” Hanson explained. For example, Tesco, a leading U.K. supermarket chain, diverts all its surplus fresh food from its distribution centers and online grocery centers to the food redistribution charity FareShare. This diversion is equal to seven million meals a year of surplus food.

When asked if Champions 12.3 will have a big impact on global food loss and waste, Hanson answered that “many movements that result in changing behavior of companies, governments, and households have required a heavy dose of top-level leadership.” He pointed out that leaders are “needed to inspire others to act, to show others the way by example, to celebrate their success, and to advocate with those in a position to affect change.” 

Another initiative tackling food loss and waste was announced at the World Economic Forum meeting. The Rockefeller Foundation’s new YieldWise initiative is a $130 million, seven-year commitment to reduce global food loss and waste by half. The Rockefeller Foundation’s President, Dr. Judith Rodin, happens to be a Champion. The fact that Rodin is a Champion  proves what Hanson said that “those who are already successfully proactively tackling food loss and waste today” are in the best position to lead on the issue.

Photo: Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture