UN expert panel urges collective action to reduce global food losses, waste

Almost one-third of food produced for human consumption – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes per year – is either lost or wasted globally. Photo: FAO/Giulio Napolitano

2 July 2014 – A newly issued United Nations-backed expert panel report takes a close look at where and how food waste occurs and recommends a number of actions that could help reduce the 1.3 billion tonnes of food that are squandered worldwide each year.

Recently, global food losses and waste has become a high visibility issue and according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), “globally around one-third of food produced is lost or wasted along the food chain, from production to consumption.”

Food loss and waste not only impacts food security and nutrition but also the sustainability of food systems – that ensure sufficient, quality food for this and future generations, says the new report.

“FLW [food loss and waste] are consequences of the way food systems function, technically, culturally and economically,” explains the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in its report, Food Losses and waste in the context of sustainable food systems, which will see its official launch tomorrow at FAO headquarters in Rome.

Adopting a systemic perspective, the report analyzes FLW impacts on the sustainability of food systems, security and nutrition by reviewing the wide range of causes.

“Reducing food losses and waste are essential to improving food security and diminishing the environmental footprint of food systems,” the report affirms.

It also provides action-oriented recommendations for Governments, companies and individuals to tackle the problem, includes numerous examples and proposes a “way forward” for actors to build strategies to reduce FLW in diverse contexts and situations.

According to the report, “all stakeholders should improve communication, coordination and recognition of efforts needed/made at one stage to reduce FLW at another (downstream or upstream).”

The Committee on Food Security (CFS) is the top international and intergovernmental platform for discussions and agenda-setting on issues related to global food security. Its membership includes Governments, UN agencies and other UN bodies, civil society and non-governmental organizations, research institutions, financial institutions and development banks, private sector associations and philanthropic foundations.

The High-Level Panel of Experts is an independent scientific panel that provides the CFS with scientific, knowledge-based analysis and advice on food security and nutrition policy issues.


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Food wastage footprint. Credit: FAO


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