Director General  QU Dongyu
Declaración del Director General de la FAO Qu Dongyu
Solo es auténtico el texto pronunciado

Launch of the State of Food and Agriculture report SOFA 2019

Monday, 14 October 2019 – Sheikh Zayed  Centre, 12:00 am

First of all, I would like to thank you all for coming here.

In 2011, FAO raised awareness on the problem of food loss and waste. We estimated then that about a third of the food yearly produced in the world is lost and wasted. That was about nine years ago.

Since then, the issue of food loss and waste has become of great public concern.

As a result, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reflected this global awareness and included Target 12.3, to halve global food waste at retail and consumer levels and reduce food loss along production and supply chains by 2030.

It is not only a matter for food loss and waste. It is a way of reducing environmental pollution, because we spend so much energy and use so many chemicals and fertilizers to produce food when, at the end, one third is thrown away. If you look at the larger picture, if we can reduce the food loss and waste, it will really make a positive difference in favor of climate resilience and adaptation.

In all of this, FAO is custodian of the indicator on the Food Loss Index and UNEP is custodian of the indicator on the Food Waste Index.

Today, it is time to move the needle. Because, frankly, we are talking too much and doing too little. That is why last month we had the General Assembly focusing on the Global Climate Change Action Plan. We need action because nowadays people are talking and talking but not enough people are working to change it.

Today, around half the world’s population lives in a country that has set an explicit national target in line with SDG 12.3, but only 12 percent lives in a country that is even measuring loss and waste, and less than 15 percent in a country that is pursuing a national-level initiative to reduce it.

On the one hand, we are suffering from malnutrition and food insecurity. On the other hand, especially at country level, there are not very many national policies to stop the loss and waste of food.

SOFA 2019 releases the first estimates for the Food Loss Index: globally, around 14 percent of food is lost from post-harvest and before the retail stage. I think this has been a little bit underestimated. In my opinion, it is more than that. Especially perishable foods, vegetables and fruit.

 Food waste by retailers and consumers is likely to be high, but the first estimates of the Food Waste Index are yet to be released by UNEP.

We know the problem, and now we need to move from advocacy to effective action and to accountability. Food loss and waste is the result of a multitude of actions across many millions of producers and consumers.

But there is no silver bullet that can drastically reduce food loss and waste.

We need to ask a fundamental question: Why do we want to reduce food loss and waste? I think there are a number of reasons.

Individual interest. I think it is a way of civilisation. If you appreciate food, it indicates that you have a good level of civility.

Public interest. Of course, we have to end hunger and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve land use effectiveness and address all those topics surrounding this.

Global Interest. Reducing food loss and waste is also a way to improve food security and nutrition and reduce environmental pressures. It is central to our food systems framework.

But we need to tailor interventions to country contexts. To have a big impact on food security, we should prioritize lowering losses in highly food-insecure countries, but we need investment in infrastructure, agricultural systems and also the management of food systems.  

One way to do so is by using improved storage.

Another way is to innovate small- and medium-scale processing methods.

Finally, we need to work on the proper market incentives so that farmers are encouraged to implement practices that will reduce losses.

And also the consumers. Countries could consider the establishment of economic incentives for people to rethink their consumption patterns, as well as a VAT for food waste. Developed countries should take a leading role in this process. Reducing food waste by consumers in high-income countries can significantly contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Modern pricing technologies. I think that is a modern business approach of C2C, or F2F, so you can also reduce food loss and food waste.

Unfortunately, a lack of reliable information constitutes a barrier to tailored interventions. We also need a collective action plan. FAO is developing guidelines for improved estimates of food loss by countries; we hope they can be taken up by Member States! Our knowledge base and policy design will only improve if we work together, through partnerships between private and public stakeholders, both nationally and internationally.

And more importantly, to address food loss and waste we need civil societies, NGOs to educate families to consume better. If you grew up with your grandmother, it will have been different to growing up with your mom. It is different because the generation gap is there.

So we would like to have a more modern and incentive based consumption. That’s very important. Because we are all used to some type of tradition in  food consumption. Sometimes tradition is good, while at other times it needs to be improved.

Thank you.