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Transcript of FAO Director-General’s remarks at the High-level event on tackling food loss and waste as a pathway to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger (UN General Assembly) 

FAO, WFP, IFAD, UNICEF and WHO launched the report on food security and nutrition last Friday – the publication is available to download from the website in 6 official languages.

This publication highlights not only that hunger is back but also the clear relationship between hunger and other forms of malnutrition, including obesity.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition now covers the whole world, not only developing countries but also developed countries, and we can see that malnutrition is an issue for all.

So more and more it is impossible to look at Sustainable Development Goal 2 in a separate way from SDG12 and more specifically 12.3. And I think that’s the main message: we need to look at the whole food chain “from the farm to the forks”, as we usually say, including distribution, retail, restaurants, and so on.

Sustainable consumption is a part of the goals that we need to achieve to eradicate hunger. If we do not do that, we will not achieve zero hunger.

I would like to highlight three points that we need and in which we are trying to focus the work:

The first one is that we need to develop new methodologies, because more and more we are finding that these numbers that we used to say – that one third of food lost and wasted - is just a big, vague number. When we tackle the specific problems and the specific value chains, we see that in some parts of Africa, for example, the loss in fisheries goes up to two thirds, not one third. And also some vegetables, especially in developed countries, can go up to 50 percent. This shows that simple initiatives, like the Portuguese Fruta Feia (which means “ugly fruit”) are amazing. They still have the same or even better vitamins and proteins. So things like that need to change.

The second thing is that we need to really address food waste and loss in a multidisciplinary and holistic approach, because it brings together the impact of climate action (SDG13) and also life below water (SDG14) and life on land (SDG15). So many things interact together in food loss and waste. Conceptually we believe that food waste is more an issue for developed countries and food loss is more in developing countries due to the lack of infrastructure, so it is important to make investments.

The third area is we need more accurate data and information. In that sense I would like to invite all of you to the experts consultation of the urban European action on food loss and waste in the context of SDG 12.3 that will take place in Rome next week. Those who need more information please visit the FAO website and consider yourselves invited to join us. We really need more partners on this effort.

To close, I would like to highlight one number. Zero tolerance towards food waste and loss also makes sense from the economical point of view. One dollar invested to combat food waste and loss would bring fourteen dollars back to the companies that invest them, especially supermarkets. So it makes economic sense also to do what we are proposing.
Thank you

 

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