29 September 2020

Pandemic Has Underlined Fragility of Food Systems, Exacerbating Loss, Waste, Secretary-General Notes in Message for International Awareness Day

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, observed today:

Food loss and waste is an ethical outrage.  In a world with enough food to feed all people, everywhere, 690 million people continue to go hungry and 3 billion cannot afford a healthy diet.

Food loss and waste also squanders natural resources — water, soil and energy, not to mention human labour and time.  It worsens climate change, given the significant role of agriculture in generating greenhouse‑gas emissions.

International concern is reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 2, which enshrines a commitment to achieving zero hunger, and in Sustainable Development Goal 12, which calls on us to halve food waste and reduce food loss by 2030.  While many countries are taking action, we need to step up efforts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the fragility of our food systems, and worsened food loss and waste in many countries.  We need new approaches and solutions.

This inaugural observance of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste comes as we prepare for the 2021 Food Systems Summit.  I urge countries to set a reduction target aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 12, measure their food loss and waste and act boldly to reduce it.  Policy action in this area should also be included in climate plans under the Paris Agreement.  Many businesses should take a similar approach.  Individuals can shop carefully, store food correctly and make good use of leftovers.

Let us work together to reduce food loss and waste for the benefit of people and our planet.

For information media. Not an official record.