Hope for the Hungry
By Sunny Lewis
ROME, Italy, July 26, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – Hundreds of millions of people throughout the world go to bed hungry while at the same time, a third of the world’s food is wasted, say the number-crunchers at the United Nations food agencies.
But there is fresh hope for the hungry. Leaders of two UN agencies fighting hunger worldwide are applauding new legislation in the United States that aims to strengthen global food assistance programs in the years ahead.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) praised U.S. President Barack Obama for his July 20th signing of the Global Food Security Act (GFSA). The United States is the largest donor to both UN agencies.
The measure was passed by the U.S. Congress on July 6 by members of both the Democratic and Republican parties, during a time of otherwise great division in the U.S. Congress and politics.
“The United States is helping to put and even stronger emphasis on how food security and economic development are intertwined, while stressing the central role of small-scale family farmers in the fight against hunger and poverty,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
“This law will have a dramatic impact on the lives of people throughout world, showing once again why the United States is a leader in promoting food security and helping those who struggle to feed their families so they can start to build their own future,” says WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.
The new law supports initiatives to develop agriculture, assist small-scale food producers and improve nutrition, especially for women and children worldwide. It seeks improve the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene to poor communities and build their resilience to withstand shocks, such as conflict, droughts and floods.
President Obama signed into law the Feed the Future program, the U.S. government’s global hunger initiative, ensuring it will continue helping countries provide their people with enough food – even after the Obama presidency ends in January.
The new law authorizes for the first time USAID‘s International Disaster Assistance and Emergency Food Security Program. This means future White House administrations and future Congresses could more easily make cash assistance available to people experiencing hunger unexpectedly, due to natural disasters or war.
And it has never been more needed. One-third of all the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted as it moves from farm, ranch or orchard to table, at a global cost as high as US$940 billion a year, calculates the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
At the same time, more than 800 million people around the world are undernourished, the FAO reminded everyone in June.
Food loss and food waste generates about eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the UN agency says, adding that if it were a country, food loss and waste would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter – behind China and the United States.
In an attempt to lose less food and feed more people, a partnership of international organizations has launched a new global framework to giv businesses, governments, and other organizations ways to measure, report on and manage food loss and waste.
The Food Loss and Waste Protocol is the partnership, and they have developed the global Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard for quantifying and reporting on food removed from the food supply chain due to waste or loss.
The new Standard was launched at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) 2016 Summit June 6 in Copenhagen.
3GF enables public-private partnerships to support the large-scale adoption of green technologies, practices and policies that they hope will accelerate solutions to intractable problems that markets and governments have been unable to solve on their own.
This set of global definitions and reporting requirements comes as a growing number of governments, companies and other organizions are making commitments to reduce food loss and waste.
“Waste makes everybody poorer,” Denmark’s Foreign Affairs Minister Kristian Jensen said. “I am pleased that a new strong alliance between public and private actors will provide an efficient answer to the global challenge of food loss and waste. 3GF has promoted yet another green and innovative solution to global challenges.”
“The new Food Loss and Waste Standard will reduce economic losses for the consumer and food industry, alleviate pressure on natural resources and contribute to realizing the ambitious goals set out in the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Jensen. “We need to push for more solutions like this for the benefit of people, profit and the planet.”
The Food Loss and Waste Protocol is the multi-stakeholder partnership convened by the nonprofit World Resources Institute and begun at the Global Green Growth Forum in 2013.
“This standard is a real breakthrough,” declared Andrew Steer, president and CEO, World Resources Institute. “There’s simply no reason that so much food should be lost and wasted. Now, we have a powerful new tool that will help governments and businesses save money, protect resources and ensure more people get the food they need.”
FLW Protocol partners include some of the largest and most influential of organizations: The Consumer Goods Forum, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the European Union-funded FUSIONS project, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), The Waste and Resources Action Programme and World Resources Institute.
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner acknowledged, “The scale of the problem of food loss and waste can be difficult to comprehend. Having this new standard by which to measure food loss and waste will not only help us understand just how much food is not making it to our mouths, but will help set a baseline for action.”
UNEP is urging all countries and companies to use the new Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard to start measuring and reporting food loss and waste, in parallel to taking action to deliver on Sustainable Development Goal SDG Target 12.3: Halve food waste by 2030.
“Wasting a third of the food we produce is a clear symptom of a global food system in trouble,” said President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development Peter Bakker. “The FLW Standard is pivotal to setting a reliable baseline for streamlined and efficient action on the ground for countries, cities, and small and big businesses along the food value chain.”
“Together with tangible business solutions,” said Bakker, “the FLW Standard can help to significantly reduce food loss and waste around the globe.”
The FLW Standard will also help reduce food loss and waste within the private sector.
In 2015, The Consumer Goods Forum, which represents more than 400 of the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers from 70 countries, adopted a resolution for its members to reduce food waste from their operations by 50 percent by 2025, with baselines and progress to be measured using the FLW Standard.
Some leading companies, like Nestle and Tesco, are already measuring and publicly reporting on their food loss and waste.
An executive summary of the Food Loss and Waste Protocol can be found at Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard
Main Image: In the Philippines, girls eat food offered by Feed My Starving Children, a Christian nonprofit organization. (Photo by Feed My Starving Children) Creative commons license via Flickr