Food waste is a global problem that has severe environmental, economic, and social implications. Yet, despite international awareness campaigns and initiatives, the problem continues to escalate. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, approximately one-third of the food produced for human consumption globally goes to waste each year. That's an astounding 1.3 billion tons of food, enough to feed three billion people for a year.
The global issue of food loss and waste has been a rising concern over the past few decades. In response to this, the United Nations General Assembly designated September 29 as the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (IDAFLW). This day is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of reducing food loss and waste and promoting sustainable practices.
The History of IDAFLW
The inception of the IDAFLW dates back to December 19, 2019, when the UN General Assembly officially recognized the day. It was a decisive step towards acknowledging the severity of the problem and its potential solutions. Since then, the day has been observed annually to make a clear call to action for both public and private entities to take proactive steps to reduce food loss and waste. Let's dive deeper into the history of this day.
The Inception of IDAFLW
The establishment of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste took place on December 2019, through a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly. The declaration of this day was an important step towards acknowledging the gravity of the problem and the need for concerted efforts to combat it.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have been leading the observance of this day since then. It has been a significant milestone in the global agenda to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 12, which aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
The First Observance
The first-ever International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste was observed on September 29, 2020. The main event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic and featured high-level officials from various UN bodies, governments, and civil society organizations.
The event emphasized the role of innovation and technology in reducing food loss and waste and highlighted the interlinkages between food loss and waste, climate change, and overall sustainability. The first observance of the day marked the beginning of global efforts to raise awareness and take action against food loss and waste.
Evolution Over the Years
Since its inception, the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste has evolved, with each year focusing on different aspects of the issue. It has served as a platform to showcase best practices, innovative solutions, and policy measures to combat food loss and waste.
Moreover, the observance of this day has helped bring together various stakeholders, including governments, private sector entities, civil society organizations, and individuals, to collaborate and share ideas and experiences in addressing food loss and waste.
In conclusion, the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste is a testament to the global commitment to address the pressing issue of food loss and waste. As we continue to observe this day, let us remember its historical significance and the crucial role it plays in promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns.
The Purpose of the Day
The primary objective of the IDAFLW is to raise awareness about the pressing issue of food loss and waste. It provides an opportunity to highlight practices and innovations that can help mitigate this problem. The day also encourages individuals, businesses, and governments to take concrete actions toward reducing food loss and waste in their respective capacities.
The Impact of Food Loss and Waste
Food waste is an escalating global issue with far-reaching impacts that stretch beyond the mere act of discarding excess food. The implications of food waste are multifaceted, affecting our environment, economy, and society at large. From contributing to climate change and squandering valuable resources to economic losses and exacerbating world hunger, the repercussions of food waste paint a grim picture. This blog post delves into the profound effects of food waste on our environment, economy, and people, highlighting the urgency to address this problem effectively.
Food waste is not just about the food itself but also the resources used to produce it – land, water, energy, and labor. When we waste food, we also waste these valuable resources.
Moreover, food waste is a significant contributor to climate change. If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States. This is because when food rots in landfills, it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
Food loss and waste have significant environmental impacts. Food waste not only represents a tremendous waste of resources used for production (such as land, water, and energy) but also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
When food is discarded, it ends up in landfills where it decomposes and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to climate change. Moreover, the loss and waste of food mean that the resources used in its production were also wasted, exacerbating the environmental impact.
On an economic level, food waste represents a tremendous loss of money. Globally, it is estimated that food waste costs up to $940 billion per year. For households, wasting food means wasting money that could be put to better use. For businesses in the food supply chain, such as farmers, retailers, and restaurants, food waste results in lost revenue and increased expenses.
While we are wasting a significant amount of food, more than 690 million people worldwide are facing hunger. The irony is stark and heartbreaking. The food wasted in developed countries alone could feed all the hungry people in the world several times over.
In addition, food waste exacerbates social inequality. In many developing countries, small-scale farmers often struggle with post-harvest losses due to a lack of storage facilities and poor transportation infrastructure. This not only reduces their income but also hinders their ability to feed their families and communities.
Why We Need The International Day of Awareness of Food Loss
The International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste serves as a reminder that each one of us has a role to play in combating food loss and waste. By adopting more sustainable practices in our daily lives, we can contribute to global efforts to reduce food loss and waste, thereby promoting food security and environmental sustainability.
But IDAFLW is not just a day of awareness; it is a call to action. Let's heed this call and work together to reduce food loss and waste for a better, more sustainable future.
Addressing food waste requires a multi-pronged approach that involves everyone from policymakers and businesses to individuals. We need to improve our food production and distribution systems, promote sustainable consumption practices, and invest in technologies that help reduce food loss and waste.
On an individual level, we can make a difference by planning our meals, buying only what we need, using leftovers creatively, and composting food scraps.