Policy Support and Governance Gateway
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Food Loss and Food Waste

Globally, 14 percent of food valued at an estimated USD400 billion is lost from harvest up to, but not including retail. Another 17 percent is wasted at the retail and consumer levels.

Actively preventing and reducing food loss and waste.

Food loss and waste (FLW) currently represent a pressing challenge in the design of sustainable food systems. FLW negatively impact food security and nutrition and significantly contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, environmental pollution, degradation of natural ecosystems and biodiversity loss, and represents a waste of resources used in food production.

Tackling food loss and waste is a defined target- SDG target 12.3 - within the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As custodians of this target, FAO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) measure and monitor progress on efforts to reduce food loss and waste against the Global Food Loss and Waste Index.

Key policy messages

  • Food loss and waste can and must be drastically reduced and prevented. Investing in producing, harvesting, handling and distributing safe and nutritious food of good quality for human consumption will contribute to the reduction of food losses and food waste. Reducing food losses has the potential to generate win-wins across all dimensions of the hunger targets – by improving food availability, food access and smallholder incomes (SDG 2) and by upholding Climate action, Life below water and Life on land (respectively SDGs 13, 14 and 15).
  • Recovery and redistribution can contribute to making good use of surplus food and reducing food insecurity while being beneficial for the environment.
  • Food loss and waste represent economic losses for all actors along food supply chains, including consumers. It also represents a highly inefficient use of resources (e.g. labour, water, energy and land), has an effect on climate change and contributes to other negative social impacts all of which are avoidable. Collaboration and partnerships of all stakeholders along the food supply chain are essential to reduce food loss and waste. Realizing and maximizing the positive impacts of reducing food loss and waste requires governance structures and human capital development as well as investments in infrastructure, technology and innovation.
  • Key drivers for change include raising the public’s awareness combined with tailored policies that facilitate the identification of targeted incentives and context based regulatory frameworks. Improved data availability on where the food loss and waste occurs, and the underlying causes and drivers will benefit the design and development of policies, strategies, and interventions to reduce food loss and waste.

  • Processes that raise awareness of FLW among the public and private sectors and civil society will facilitate target setting at local, national, regional, and global levels, focus efforts, mobilize resources and guarantee the implementation of impactful action towards accomplishing the 2030 Agenda.

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