44 Food losses and waste in the context of metropolitan food and nutrition security

Urbanization, growing world population and rising middle classes: (Mega) cities need more and more supply of healthy fresh food. What role do FLW play in shaping efficient and sustainable urban food systems?

Organizers: Postharvest Network; Wageningen University and Research Centre; CGIAR CCAFS; Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; FAO

Abstract

The growing world population, urbanization and growing middle classes will increase already existing challenges for metropolitan food and nutrition security. The supply of (mega)cities with healthy and fresh products needs robust and efficient supply chains in order to provide sufficient food in good quality and for affordable prices. Surrounding rural areas will be key for supplying cities and strong urban-rural linkages are needed in order to come to solutions. The urban-rural transformation has a significant impact on this development. Food losses and waste are a significant indicator of inefficient food systems and without interventions these will only increase leading to even more losses in social (food security), economic (loss of profit) and ecological (impact on resource use) respect. Building further on recommendations from the HLPE report #8 ‘Food losses and waste in the context of sustainable food systems’ and in cooperation with UNEP we will present an outline on what the future of metropolitan food and nutrition security could look like and which role the reduction of food losses and waste will play. The discussion will explore examples of good practices, possible interventions, monitoring tools, and the role of governmental players, private sector, knowledge institutions and civil society.

Key speakers

Nina Waldhauer (Postharvest Network, Wageningen UR)

Joint presentation: Guido Santini (FAO) and Camelia Bucatariu (FAO)

Larissa Uwase (Carl Group)

Main themes/issues discussed

The event focused on the relation between population growth and urbanization on the one hand and sustainable urban food systems on the other hand. The growing world population, urbanization and growing middle classes will increase already existing challenges for metropolitan food and nutrition security. The supply of (mega)cities with healthy and fresh products needs robust and efficient supply chains in order to provide sufficient safe food in good quality, for affordable prices and appropriate physical access. Surrounding rural areas will be key for supplying cities and strong urban-rural linkages are needed in order to come to solutions. The urban-rural transformation has a significant impact on this development. Food loss and waste (FLW) are a significant indicator of an inefficient food system and without interventions these will only increase leading to even more losses in social (food security and nutrition), economic (loss of profit) and ecological (impact on resource use and waste management) respect.

Summary of key points

Three speakers presented work of their organizations regarding metropolitan food security.

Nina Waldhauer (Postharvest Network, Wageningen UR) outlined the trends in food loss and waste and challenges in metropolitan food (in)security and explained the necessity of actions on three levels: 1) strategic national programs encompassing policy, rules & regulations, border procedures, infrastructure, and knowledge development; 2) regional vertical and horizontal integration for efficiency increase integrating hardware, software and orgware; and 3) real-life implementations and pilots with the private sector on a chain level.

Guido Santini (Programme Coordinator - Food for the Cities Programme, Rural and urban crop and mechanization systems (AGPML), FAO) presented in the joint intervention prepared with Camelia Bucatariu (Technical Officer (Food Waste), Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction (SAVE FOOD), Nutrition and Food Systems Division (ESN), FAO) about the city region food systems and food waste management and  the FAO work on City Region Food Systems (CRFS) and its relation to the New Urban Agenda in the framework of the newly launched GIZ-RUAF Foundation-FAO publication “City Region Food Systems and Food Waste Management: Linking Urban and Rural Areas for Sustainable and Resilient Development”. The four pillars (advocacy, research, technical support, partnerships) of the Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction (SAVE FOOD) lead by FAO in collaboration with its partners was also introduced. Besides operationalization aspects of the CRFS Guido clearly pointed out the ‘right to adequate food’, which should be included also in (sub)national legislation, the need to include food and agricultural aspects into urban planning, the positive impact shorter supply chains, as feasible, would have and the necessity to give more power to cities for them to make the food system sustainable.

Larissa Uwase (Carl Group) focused in her presentation on postharvest innovations that add value and increase the shelf-life of agricultural products. She clearly underlines the need for simple, diverse and highly context-specific solutions for low and middle income countries as well as the need to improve local nutrition for healthier lives. Her three main messages centered around 1) expanding local research capacity; 2) create financing mechanisms for innovative solutions of the young generation; and 3) take counteraction against climate change.

Take away messages

The speakers and audience agreed on a number of points, the most important of which are:

Food System perspective and Strong urban-rural linkages are essential to make the city region food system more sustainable. Important aspects in this are shorter supply chains, as feasible, transparency and more decision power for cities in coordination with the national level in order to ensure the urban-rural linkage.

Actions need to be taken on three levels: national, regional and chain level.

Capacity building is essential, all along the supply chains, as is the understanding and appreciation of the value of food, in order to reduce food loss and waste.

Solutions need to be highly context-specific and giving incentives for cooperation on reducing FLW is much more effective than forced cooperation.

All stakeholders – government, the private sector, knowledge institutes and civil society – have their specific role to play in making the global food system sustainable. In order to achieve global targets cooperation of all players is essential.