The members of the Champions 12.3 coalition call on all governments and companies to pursue the following strategies to dramatically accelerate efforts to halve their food loss and waste by 2030: (1) Follow the "Target-Measure-Act" approach, (2) Integrate food loss and waste reduction into climate strategies, and (3) Pursue food loss and waste reduction as part of COVID-19 responses.
The members of the Champions 12.3 coalition call on all governments and companies to pursue the following strategies to dramatically accelerate efforts to halve their food loss and waste by 2030:
- Follow the “Target-Measure-Act” approach. This three-step approach is a proven way to achieve rapid results:
Target. Targets set ambition, and ambition motivates action. Governments and companies should adopt explicit food loss and waste reduction targets aligned with SDG Target 12.3.
Measure. The old adage “what gets measured gets managed” is true for food loss and waste, as well. Governments and companies should measure their food loss and waste to identify the “hot spots” needing action, publish the results to inspire others, and monitor to track progress over time.
Act. In the end, action is what ultimately matters. Based on information gathered from measurement, governments and companies should develop and implement strategies for tackling their hot spots of food loss and waste, ranging from on-farm food losses to household food waste and everything in between. National public-private partnerships can be an effective way to take collaborative action, find pragmatic policies and practices, and engage everyone from farmers to consumers in a shared mission.
Integrate food loss and waste reduction into climate strategies. Governments should include food loss and waste reduction into their enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement on climate change. Likewise, companies should include food loss and waste reduction in their corporate greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies, commitments to Science-Based Targets, and other climate programs.
Pursue food loss and waste reduction as part of COVID-19 responses. As part of their policies and investments to “Build Back Better,” governments should include programs, policies, and financing to help farmers reduce on-farm food losses, encourage households to reduce food waste, and fix broken supply chains. Food producers and food retailers should collaborate to increase the amount of food making it either to market or to those in need.
These three strategies can help countries, companies, farmers, and consumers reduce their food loss and waste at scale and at pace.
Food loss and waste is a challenge of epic proportions. One-third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted between the farm and the plate. This astounding amount results in $940 billion in economic losses globally each year. It contributes to food insecurity—in a world where one in nine people are undernourished. It consumes 1/4 of all water used by agriculture each year and requires land area greater than the size of China—contributing to the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity. Moreover, food that is lost or wasted generates about 8% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, if food loss and waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter.
Addressing the food loss and waste crisis is urgent. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed weaknesses in the global food system, driving up food loss and waste in some places, impacting incomes of farmers and other food business operators, and increasing the number of people who go to bed hungry. Moreover, countries are woefully behind in achieving Target 12.3—which calls for halving the rate of food loss and waste by 2030—of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Halving food loss and waste can help meet a number of important goals. For example, reducing food loss and waste increases farmer incomes, improves business margins, and saves money for households. It strengthens food security for all, in particular the most vulnerable. And it reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the food sector, helping to mitigate climate change.
Halving food loss and waste can be achieved. As we highlight this year in our annual assessment of global progress toward achieving SDG 12.3, the United Kingdom has already reduced its per capita edible food loss and waste from farm gate to plate by 27%, saving around $6 billion per year. And a number of companies already have achieved reductions greater than 25%. If they can do it, others can too.
Champions 12.3 and the institutions we lead stand ready to help you with these strategies. With just a decade remaining to achieve the SDGs, bold action is critical. The world has no more time—or food—to waste!