In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include Target 12.3’s call for halving food waste and reducing food losses worldwide by 2030.
This fourth annual progress report assesses advances by governments and companies over the past 12 months relative to a three-step approach for reducing food loss and waste: target, measure, and act.
Targets set ambition, and ambition motivates action. A first step to reducing food loss and waste is for governments and companies to set specific reduction targets aligned with SDG Target 12.3. This past year has seen a growth in governments and companies setting targets in support of SDG 12.3, with notable action by the Sustainable Rice Platform – an alliance made up of the largest rice producers in the world, which has committed to halve on-farm and near-farm losses among members by 2030.
What gets measured gets managed. Quantifying food loss and waste can help decision makers better understand and respond to how much, where, and why food is being lost or wasted. One highlight of the past 12 months is European Commission’s adoption of a measurement methodology to support member states in quantifying food waste.
What ultimately matters is action. Reducing food loss and waste is everyone’s responsibility. One noteworthy development that promises to scale up the number of food companies actively working to reduce food loss and waste is the new 10x20x30 initiative. Through it, 10 of the world’s largest global food retailers and providers will each engage 20 of their own priority suppliers to apply the Target-Measure-Act approach to reduce their food loss and waste by 50% by 2030.
A Road Map to Achieving SDG Target 12.3
This progress is promising. But is the world on track to achieve Target 12.3 by 2030? To answer this question, the 2019 Progress Report benchmarks progress against Champions 12.3’s road map showing a pathway for achieving the target by 2030.
The report’s authors have assessed progress to date against the 2019–2021 milestones, with “green” indicating that the first milestone is achieved, “yellow” indicating some progress has been made, and “red” indicating little progress toward meeting the milestone, or previous progress is backsliding.
Setting Targets to Reduce Food Loss and Waste
Governments. Countries or regional blocs that have set specific food loss and waste reduction targets aligned with SDG 12.3 cover an estimated 50% of the world’s population.
Companies. Two-thirds of the world’s 50 largest food companies (by revenue) have also independently set a food loss and waste reduction target consistent with SDG 12.3 or participate in programs that have a target in line with SDG 12.3.
Measure and Reporting Food Loss and Waste
Governments. Countries representing around 12% of the world’s population measure their food loss and/or waste – many more governments will need to quantify and report their food loss and waste to achieve SDG 12.3 on time.
Companies. 44% of the world’s largest food companies have started measuring on food loss and waste within their own operations, and 30% are measuring and reporting on their food loss and waste.
Acting to Reducing Food Loss and Waste
Governments. Countries representing just 15% of the world’s population are acting at scale to reduce food loss and waste. No country has yet announced a halving of food loss and waste, with a lack of quantification at the national level hindering tracking of this milestone.
Companies. One-third of the world’s 50 largest food companies have established food loss and waste reduction programs to accelerate action.