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UNEP ups the ante

Clementine O Connor of UNEP, in a keynote session address at the 3rd Cold Chain Summit, outlines the progress made on Target 12.3 of the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)…

| | Mar 5, 2017 | 3:27 pm
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In 2015, the United Nations introduced Target 12.3, which calls for halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels, and reducing food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses, by 2030. In December 2015, during the 2nd Cold Chain Summit, in Singapore, Clementine O’Connor, Sustainable Food System Consultant at the United Nations Environment Programme, led the way for the Summit to embrace the letter and spirit of the target, so that the cold chain industry could work in a concerted manner to offer solutions to reduce food waste and food loss.

O’Connor used the 2016 platform of the Cold Chain Summit to take delegates through the progress made a year since.

Food loss and waste, she said, continue to pose a significant economic, social and environmental challenge. The two aspects of food security, she added, are responsible for USD 940 billion annual global economic losses. They also cause 800 million people to suffer from hunger.

We want to make a business case for food waste and food loss. We want to increase investment and accelerate capacity building

In view of that, UNEP, she said, has called countries and companies to action on Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3. To date, O’Connor said, the progress report shows that very few countries have adopted the targets. Among them are the United States and 28 member states of the European Union. The African Union has also set a target to reduce food loss. “But there are still lots of white spaces in the map,” O’Connor said, “so we are hopeful more countries will adopt. We need targets in Latin America, Asia, Africa (food waste), cities and by agri-business companies.”

O’Connor said that UNEP in June 2016 launched an initiative to evolve a proper mechanism to quantify the action taken, through publishing the Food Loss and Waste Protocol (FLW Protocol). She said that UNEP had realised that it would be possible to track progress only when it is possible to know the starting point, hence the publication. “We hear that about a third of food is lost or wasted, but lot of that is based on assumptions, so we are trying to encourage countries and companies to quantify in a precise way the scale of food loss and waste,” she said. Essentially, the FLW Protocol provides a global standard for food loss and waste measurement, she said, adding that it covers a wide range of quantification approaches.

O’Connor said that in terms of private sector participation, food retail giant, TESCO in the United Kingdom was the first to quantify and publicly report on its food waste. Tesco, she said, published its data in 2013. “We are seeing a few more retailers, who are making a public commitment to be transparent about food loss and food waste data,” she said. “We want people to take on the challenge and countries to publish their baseline. We need more action by more entities, across more regions. We want to make a business case for food waste and food loss. We want to increase investment and accelerate capacity building.”


[The writer is the Editor of Climate Control Middle East.]


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