December 20, 2023

Food Systems at COP 28

Co-founder and interim CEO Aoibheann O'Brien with other food bankers and colleagues from Global FoodBanking Network at COP 28 in Dubai.

At the UN climate change conference, COP 28, for the first time ever, food -  and the potential of food surplus redistribution to protect our planet, and our health - took centre stage. 159 countries signed up to the Emirates Declaration on Resilient Food Systems. In doing so they pledged, by 2025, to orient policies and public support to reduce food loss and waste.

On education day, the School Meals Coalition launched a climate friendly school meals initiative, where the need to prevent food loss and waste at every stage in the food chain was once again described as a key climate and food security action. 

On the first ever food loss and waste day at COP 28, FoodCloud’s co-founder and interim CEO Aoibheann O’Brien took part in a discussion, hosted by our partners Global FoodBanking Network, on the role of food loss and waste (FLW) in methane emissions. The Global Methane Pledge unites 155 countries, including Ireland, in the aim of reducing their methane emissions 30% by 2030. The food system is one of the leading contributors of methane emissions - constituting 40% from agriculture (livestock and also rice production) and 20% from food loss and waste (FLW). While methane has a much shorter lifespan than CO2, it is also much more efficient at trapping radiation. Per unit of mass, methane has a warming effect 80 times more potent than CO2 over 20 years. Over a 100-year period, methane is 28 times stronger. You can watch the session here

‘Reducing Food Loss and Waste’, a philanthropic roadmap with contributions from experts  ReFED, the WRAP, the Food and Land Use Coalition, the World Resources Institute and others, also launched at COP 28, and is worth quoting from: 

More than one-third of all food produced worldwide is never eaten, and the consequences are profound. FLW deprives farmers of income, costs consumers money, exacerbates biodiversity loss, and causes at least 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, 9% of the global population does not have enough to eat. Food systems this wasteful are not only inefficient, they are harmful. Just as the costs are enormous and far-reaching, so too are the benefits of reducing FLW. By working on this one issue, it is possible to improve food security and nutrition, strengthen economies, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and shrink our environmental footprint.

The roadmap outlines how philanthropic investments in five key areas can significantly reduce FLW, and catalyse ‘the changes needed by governments, the private sector, and individuals to put the globe on a path to permanent and significant reductions in the amount of food that is lost and wasted each year.’ 

With the level of wasted food in Ireland and globally still so high, opportunities to tackle this issue, and food insecurity abound. We have just finished our planning for 2024, with ambitious targets to redistribute as much food as possible, and to continue sharing Foodiverse with the universe.

As Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank says, when it comes to food waste and behaviour change,  ‘the revolution has to be delicious or it won’t work’.  With that in mind, we hope you all have a delicious (zero food waste) Christmas, a well earned rest, and a productive but peaceful 2024.  

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