Despite there being enough food worldwide to feed all its inhabitants, 690 million people continue to go hungry and 3 billion cannot afford a healthy diet, according to António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN).
In a press statement, Guterres said that food loss and waste also squanders natural resources, including water, soil and energy, not to mention human labour and time.
“It worsens climate change, given the significant role of agriculture in generating greenhouse gas emissions,” he added.
He said that international concern is reflected in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, which enshrines a commitment to achieving zero hunger, and in SDG 12, which calls on us to halve food waste and reduce food loss by 2030. While many countries are taking action, Guterres need efforts need to be stepped up.
“The [novel coronavirus] COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the fragility of our food systems, and worsened food loss and waste in many countries,” he said, “We need new approaches and solutions.”
Guterres’ remarks came on the sidelines of the inaugural International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste.
The UN Secretary-General said that the inaugural event to mark how food is consumed comes as the world prepares for the 2021 Food Systems Summit.
“I urge countries to set a reduction target aligned with SDG 12, measure their food loss and waste and act boldly to reduce it,” he said, “Policy action in this area should also be included in climate plans under the Paris Agreement.”
He concluded that many businesses should take a similar approach. Individuals can shop carefully, store food correctly and make good use of leftovers.
“Let us work together to reduce food loss and waste for the benefit of people and our planet,” he said.