United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Australian Charity OzHarvest to Highlight Global Food Waste at UNEP Sustainable Innovation Forum at COP20 in Lima, Peru


Worldwide, at least one-third of all food produced, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems

OzHarvest, Australia's leading food rescue charity, in partnership with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Climate Action, is taking the message of stopping global food waste to the international stage at this year's Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF) in Lima, Peru as part of the global Think.Eat.Save campaign.

Following the recent release of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's report on Global Food Losses and Food Waste, the issues of food waste, food insecurity and sustainability have been identified as some of the world's most urgent development challenges.

The results of the study suggested that roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, amounting to about 1.3 billion tonnes per year. It also showed that if food waste were a country, it would be the third highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, behind the USA and China, significantly contributing to global warming.

When the more than 350 delegates convened at the SIF - held at the margins of the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference, or COP20 - on 9 December, they were treated to a unique lunch banquet served with a 'rescued-food-theme' twist.

Australian Ambassador to Peru, Mr Nicholas McCaffrey, said, 'I am pleased to see yet another successful Australian organization in Peru. I hope this visit will become the start of a long and fructiferous relationship.'

The event served as an opportunity to remind delegates of the level that food waste contributes to dangerous greenhouse gasses, which affect climate change, and the amount of resources squandered on fields for crops that may never be consumed.

Peruvian celebrity chef Diego Muñoz of Astrid y Gastón, awarded No.1 Restaurant in Latin America, together with Executive Chef from Lima's 5-star Westin Hotel, Wilfred Dass, have designed a lunch menu for the Forum using a selection of surplus produce saved from landfill, or sustainably sourced from local farmers and suppliers.

The lunch was modelled after OzHarvest's annual Think.Eat.Save events, held in partnership with UNEP that feed thousands of people across the country with rescued food and raise awareness about global food waste.

The lunch featured local Peruvian chefs, suppliers, growers as well as renowned events producer, Arturo De Noriega.

'As soon as I heard about what OzHarvest, UNEP and Climate Action were planning for the lunch, I knew I needed to be involved,' said Mr Muñoz.

'For me, cooking does not start when you turn the fire on or you grab a knife, but rather it begins right where food is sourced, on the land or in the sea,' he added.

In Australia, US $8 to 10 billion of food is wasted each year. Or 4 million tonnes per year ends up in landfill. In the United States, it is four times that amount, costing US $48.3 billion per annum.

Approximately 6.7 million tonnes of food ends up in landfill in the United Kingdom every year - organic waste is the largest source of methane emissions in the UK, which are 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Peruvian actor and activist Jason Day supported the organizations' joint efforts to highlight food waste at the global and local levels.

'OzHarvest's visit to Peru for the UNEP and Climate Action Sustainable Innovation Forum represents a clear opportunity for this country to learn, assimilate and turn into public policy such an innovative approach to food, and fight against hunger in a very sustainable way,' said Mr. Day.

Mr. Dass, Executive Chef of the Westin Hotel, tasked to feed 350 delegates, said, 'The Westin Hotel in Lima is proud to be working in collaboration with OzHarvest, UNEP and Climate Action to minimize food waste, and we will continue this legacy in Peru and hope to see others in the industry follow.'

Claire Poole, Director of Climate Action said, 'When convening such a large number of high profile individuals it's important that the food be of the highest standard, but also sourced and provided with the guiding principles of what we are all working towards. We must ensure we are practicing what we preach.'

More on food waste

The impact of food waste is not just financial, it results in wasted land and water resources, fuel, labour and energy. Around 805 million people suffer from hunger globally, though a third of food produced goes uneaten. Rotting food generates substantial methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas. The total carbon footprint of uneaten food produced is the equivalent of 3.3 Gt of carbon dioxide.

Additional Quotes:

  • James Lomax, Sustainable Food Systems Programme, UNEP
    'UNEP is tackling food waste head-on with its Think Eat Save methodology for food waste prevention at city, country and company levels - currently being piloted in Johannesburg and expanding to other regions very soon. We are delighted to be working with OzHarvest and Climate Action in Lima to underline the importance of reducing food waste in fighting both hunger and climate change,' said.
  • Ronni Kahn, Founder and CEO of OzHarvest.
    'We know that by 2050, the global population will exceed 9 billion people. For future generations, we need to make positive food choices to provide food security for all,' Kahn said.
    'We also need to ensure our actions protect our environment and minimize the negative impacts of climate change. Each and every one of us can make a change by reducing food waste at home, in businesses and making sustainable choices for the future of food as a resource for the future of the world we choose to live in.'

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