How food systems, consumption contributes to climate change – UNEP

By Chuks Oyema-Aziken

The United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, has called on nations to protect biodiversity by using existing agricultural land more efficiently and so reducing the push for expansion.

Executive Director, UNEP, Inger Andersen, stated this in an address on the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste.

She said the food loss and waste account for up to ten per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. 

“They use up precious land and water resources for, essentially, nothing. Look, we will never eliminate food waste and loss. But putting a serious dent in them will help us to slow climate change, protect nature and increase food security – at a time when we desperately need these things to happen.

“The challenge we face is that consumer food waste is a far bigger problem than previously thought, and one that affects middle-income countries as well as high-income countries. 

“UNEP’s Food Waste Index report found that households, food services and retail wasted 931 million tonnes of food in 2019, around 17 per cent of all food available for human consumption. Households generate an average 74kg per person per year, more than the body weight of an average person.

She said UNEP is launching Regional Food Waste Working Groups, in Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and West Asia. 

“These groups will provide technical support and peer-to-peer learning, helping countries measure baselines using a globally applicable methodology and develop national food waste prevention strategies.

“Countries must be bold and seize these benefits by measuring food waste, integrating food waste into their national climate plans and acting on sustainable cold chains.”

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