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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum


Development of a Code of Conduct on Food Loss and Food Waste Prevention

The world is facing unprecedented global challenges that affect the sustainability of agricultural and food systems. These challenges include: natural resource depletion and the adverse impacts of environmental degradation, such as desertification, drought, land degradation, water scarcity and biodiversity loss; rapid urbanization and population growth and the associated changes in lifestyles and dietary habits; transboundary pests and diseases; and climate change.  It is widely recognized that one of the key practical actions to address these challenges is to reduce food losses and waste (FLW). This is particularly true when FLW is addressed using a food system approach, as it can dramatically increase the sustainable use of natural resources and strengthen climate and food security resilience. The Food Loss Index measures the extent to which the world is making progress in reducing FLW as part of efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

At its 26th Session of October 2018, the FAO Committee on agriculture (COAG) requested that FAO take the lead, in collaboration with relevant actors, to develop Voluntary Codes of Conduct (CoC) for the reduction of food loss and food waste for submission to the next session of COAG (COAG 27) in October 2020. In response to this request, FAO is planning to lead a global process that will engage different stakeholders to develop the CoC. 

Description of the CoC on FLW prevention

The CoC will present a set of voluntary, global, internationally agreed, guiding principles and practices that different stakeholders can adopt and apply in order to achieve FLW reduction while yielding positive outcomes relative to the environment, natural resources, livelihoods, food security and nutrition in alignment with the 2030 agenda.

More specifically, it is envisaged that the CoC will:

  • Provide a benchmark and framework against which countries can develop strategies, policies, institutions, legislation and programmes.
  • Provide a set of global, internationally agreed-upon, locally adaptable voluntary practices that different stakeholders directly or indirectly involved with FLW might adopt.
  • Provide guidance as to what constitute acceptable practices against which different stakeholders can gauge their proposed actions.
  • Facilitate the harmonization of the approaches applied and the assessment of progress in the reduction of FLW.

The audience targeted as potential users of the CoC includes all the different stakeholders who deal directly or indirectly with FLW, namely:

  • Government agencies, including relevant ministries and national and sub-national institutions;
  • Food supply chain actors (including: small scale family farmers, herders and fisher folk; processors; SMEs and other agribusiness operating in the private sector; and consumers)
  • Civil society organizations (CSO);
  • Academic and research institutions;
  • Bi- and multi-lateral development agencies, including international financial institutions;
  • Philanthropic organisations;
  • UN agencies and intergovernmental and regional organizations with a mandate related to FLW;

Main sections of the annotated outline of CoC on FLW prevention

The outline document presents the main parts of the CoC, which will comprise the following sections:

  • an introductory section presenting the background, rationale, nature, scope, target audience and objectives of CoC
  • the main body containing the guiding principles and practices to address FLW.

This section is broken into:

  • General guiding principles
  • Specific principles and practices addressed through a hierarchy approach, which prioritizes prevention and reduction at the various steps of the supply chain, followed by redistribution of food for human consumption, food loss and waste repurposing and recycling and ultimately disposal, as depicted in the following figure:

  • Cross-cutting issues.

Purpose of the discussion

The e-consultation is launched and facilitated by FAO’s Food Systems Programme (SP4) in order to get feedback and suggestions on (i) the outline of the CoC and (ii) the content of the different sections. The recommendations of the e-consultation will contribute to the preparation of the Zero Draft of the CoC, which will be further discussed and refined through internal and external multi-stakeholder consultations. It is envisaged that a final version of the CoC will be presented for endorsement at the 27th session of COAG in October 2020.


1) With respect to the proposed outline and structure of the CoC:

  • a) Does the proposed outline of the CoC address the issues in an exhaustive and comprehensive way?
  • b) Are there any particular issues and aspects of importance that you think are not be addressed in the proposed structure?
  • c) Are there any disadvantages or gaps you see in the current structure

2) With respect to the content of the different sections of the CoC:

  • a) What are the general guiding principles that you think are important for section 2.1?
  • b) What are the specific guiding principles and practices do you think are important for sections 2.2.1(a, b& c), 2.2.2 and 2.2.3?
  • c) Taking into account the need to foster FLW policy coherence, which cross-cutting issues are relevant to the FLW topic, as addressed in section 2.2.4?

3) Can you provide specific examples of policies, interventions, initiatives, alliances and institutional arrangements which should be considered as best practices in FLW prevention, reduction, food recovery, repurposing and recycling?

4) How could this Code of Conduct on FLW prevention and reduction be most useful for different stakeholders, especially at national and regional levels?


Thank you for your contribution!

Divine Njie

Deputy Strategic Programme Leader

Food Systems Programme (SP4)

Food and Agriculture Organization

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