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Make a pledge to change

19 December 2022

Timed to launch at the same time as COP27, the new ‘123 Pledge’ aims to accelerate action to reduce food loss and waste worldwide. It challenges governments, businesses and other important actors in the food system to commit to concrete steps that will make reducing food loss and waste a part of their action agendas on greenhouse gas emissions. 

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The way food is produced and consumed today results in high rates of food loss and waste. An estimated 14% of food is lost in the food supply chain from post-harvest up to wholesale included. Meanwhile, 17% of food is wasted at retail and consumer level. Food loss and waste (FLW) costs the global economy over USD $1 trillion annually. It’s also responsible for more than four times the greenhouse gas emissions of all annual aviation combined.

Champions 12.3 is a coalition of leaders across government, business and civil society dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilising action, and accelerating progress toward achieving Target 12.3 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Target 12.3 calls on the world to ‘halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses’ by 2030

“Food loss and waste drives up to 10% of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, yet just a handful of countries mention it in their national climate plans. None of the world’s biggest emitters are on that list,” said Liz Goodwin, senior fellow and director of Food Loss and Waste at World Resources Institute, which serves as secretariat of Champions 12.3. “Despite some real bright spots, the world is woefully behind where it needs to be. Without real action to halve food loss and waste, it will be very difficult to solve the climate crisis.”

“With the damaging effects climate change has on food security and nutrition, and the negative effects of agrifood systems on climate change and the environment across the world, now is the moment for decisive action to transform how our agrifood systems operate and reduce food loss and waste, providing benefits from both a mitigation and adaptation angle to assure better production, better nutrition, better environment and better life,” said Máximo Torero Cullen, chief economist of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “Commitment from all stakeholders – from governments, private sector companies, small producers and civil society to consumers – will be required if we are to make a dent on the issue of FLW and achieve the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda. This is the importance of the #123Pledge and the collaborative efforts championed by the Food Is Never Waste Coalition.” 

The ‘123 Pledge’ is being coordinated by Champions 12.3, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It is also supported by WRAP, WWF, and Rabobank.

Groups taking the ‘123 Pledge’ must meet a number of requirements designed to ensure impact, progress and transparency toward a worldwide goal of halving food loss and waste by 2030, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. 

Commitments must include a climate angle, be timebound, and measurable. Those taking the Pledge must commit to providing annual progress reports to the Food Is Never Waste Coalition or to Champions 12.3. Annual progress reports will contribute to the Global Stocktake (GST), which will conclude at COP28 in 2023.

Commitments must also tie to at least one of five priority areas:
1. Integrating food loss and waste reduction into country and company climate strategies;
2. Reducing food loss and waste along supply chains;
3. Stimulating action at the national and subnational (city) level;
4. Measuring, reporting and creating policy and regulatory frameworks for food loss and waste reduction; and
5. Supporting behaviour change at the consumer level through awareness, education and enabling conditions.

From the food manufacturing sector, Unilever has already committed to continue to focus on halving food waste in its direct operations by 2025. Its Hellmann’s brand aims to inspire and enable 100 million consumers every year till 2025 to be more resourceful with their food at home and waste less. They are expanding the geographical scope of their consumer-facing program covering North America, Latin America and Europe with country focus on US, CA, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, UK, Spain, Greece.

“If we are going to address the dual climate and biodiversity crisis, we cannot ignore the connection to food loss and waste. Our government and business leaders must recognise this connection and halt the expansion of agriculture at the expense of nature,” said Pete Pearson, Global Initiative Lead for the Food Circularity program at WWF. “We have the tools to maximise the availability of food for humans and feed for animals while also addressing global food insecurity – but we can’t do it without making the reduction of food loss and waste a global imperative. WWF is committed to leveraging our global network of offices to influence governments and industries to immediately meet our call to action.”

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