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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

Curbing food waste and loss helps reduce pressure on natural resources and to mitigate climate change

Graziano da Silva addresses High-Level Forum at AgroBalt 2018 in Lithuania

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva addressing a High Level Forum on the topic at the AgroBalt 2018 international exhibition.

24 May 2018, Vilnius – Much more needs to be done around the world to stem food loss and waste, which is a vital for achieving sustainable development, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today speaking at a High Level Forum on the topic at the AgroBalt 2018 international exhibition.

He noted that Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 calls for responsible production and consumption with the specific target (SDG 12.3) of halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and also to reduce food losses along production and supply chains.

“But food loss and waste goes far beyond SDG 12,” and is linked to many other SDGs including Zero Hunger and malnutrition, climate action, safeguarding life below water and life on land, the FAO Director-General said.

“If we reduce food losses and waste we will also alleviate pressure on natural resources and mitigate the impacts of climate change,” he added.

About one-third of all food produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted. But in some particular cases, this proportion can be even higher. Food loss takes place in post-production, harvesting, transportation and storage, it is mostly related to inadequate infrastructure and it is mainly a problem in developing countries. Differently, food waste happens at the consumption side and it is a bigger problem in the developed world.

Solutions to reduce food loss and waste need to be considered and evaluated not only based on technical feasibility; but also on economic profitability, social and cultural acceptability, as well as environmental soundness, Graziano told the event’s participants.

This calls for new and innovative solutions, and for public and private sector cooperation. He underscored the very important role the public sector has in creating an enabling environment, through the provision of infrastructure, adequate policies and legislation.

FAO is actively participating in the development of indicators to measure the performance of countries against the target SDG 12.3 and regarding food loss, has led the efforts to develop the Global Food Loss Index, which focuses on post-harvest losses that occur from production up to, but excluding the retail level.

FAO is also one of the three main implementers of the SAVE FOOD Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction, together with Messe Düsseldorf  and the United Nations Environment Programme. The initiative aims to encourage dialogue among all relevant stakeholders, including governments, industry, research institutions and civil society.