Focusing on the issue of high food consumption and wastage of food in the UAE, Emirates Environmental Group organised its 7th Session of Community Lecture Series 2013 on 27 August 2013 in Dubai on the topic of Save Wasted Food for Zero Hunger. The session delved into the importance of saving food and avoiding wastage of food at all stages of food chain.
According to the FAO, under current production and consumption trends, global food production must increase 70% by 2050 in order to meet the demands of the growing world population. Yet, worldwide about one-third of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tones – gets lost or wasted in the food production and consumption systems every year.
Food loss and waste is a global concern today and many global initiatives are being undertaken to address this challenging issue. Food loss and wastage is a serious challenge for sustainable development – socially, economically and environmentally.
Following the theme of the World Environment Day, “Think. Eat. Save…. Reduce your Foodprint” and increasing wastage of food in the country, the purpose of the 7th Community Lecture was to bring to the surface the criticality of the issue and create awareness amongst all stakeholders to avoid food loss and wastage.
Ms Habiba Al Mar’ashi, Chairperson, Emirates Environmental Group in her welcome remarks shared that food loss and waste is a complex problem with losses occurring throughout the food chain from “farm to fork”, adding pressure on food security in the region and globally.
She further added that in medium and high income countries like ours, food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Food consumption in the UAE is a critical matter of concern. According to Dubai Municipality Waste Management Department, on regular days food makes up 33 to 38 per cent of domestic waste, during festive seasons like Ramadan it goes up to 55 per cent or more and lands up in landfills. Raising awareness among industries, retailers and consumers as well as finding beneficial use for saved food that is presently thrown away are useful measures to decrease the amount of losses and waste along with creating eco-friendly eating culture to change people’s habits and this session is a step towards that, she stated.
Mr Moez El Shohdi, Co-Founder & CEO - Egyptian Food Bank shared the details of food loss at each step in the food chain and gave some steps to work towards saving the wasted and lost foods through the initiatives adopted by the Food Banking Network. The network is a unique programme working towards eliminating hunger from the region by 2020 through creating a diversity of long term development, awareness, educational and feeding programs by founding food banks in the region, in co-operation with credible, potential partners in all sectors. Sharing the successful initiatives of the network, he emphasized on a collaborative approach at all levels of supply chain and consumption, giving examples of engagement with hotels, capacity building of farmers, selection of appropriate products, investment in right infrastructure, efficient transportation and awareness campaigns for cultural change as a way to avoid food loss and wastage and fight hunger together. The network as a social entrepreneurship model dealing with social issues with economic return is currently engaging with 10 food networks in the region and is working towards adding many more in Asia and Africa.
As part of the awareness spreading programmes of EEG, community lectures are free open public seminars hosted on the last Tuesday of each month. The seminars focus on array of environmental issues with the expert insights from business and government leaders and influential academics and researchers. EEG’s full house public speaking lectures are a sought after event and serve as a platform for the community to network, share and learn about the latest ground breaking technologies and solutions and inculcate the practice of ‘We Care’.
The topic of the current session caught the attention of many sectors including the media. The session was well attended by students, individual community members, hotel and other industry representatives and members of media. The session was highly interactive and raised discussions on significant concerns related to food wastage both at the level of supply chain by hotel and retail industry and through consumption by the community members and inspired the participants to work towards food sustainability and contribute to reach zero hunger level in the world.
Note for Editors: Emirates Environmental Group (EEG): EEG is a professional working group devoted to protecting the environment through the means of education, action programs and community involvement. It is the first environmental NGO in the world to be ISO 14001 certified and the only organization of its kind in the UAE with accredited status to the United Nations Convention to Combating Desertification (UNCCD) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). EEG is a regional focal point of the UN Global Compact and hosts the secretariat of Global Compact for the GCC states. EEG is also a member of the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN).