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China unites against food loss and waste


    Dr. Jiang Nanjing (front left), along with Xie Yuhong (middle) and Dr. Cheng Shengkui (front right), gives a speech in support of the initiative against food loss and waste at the "Food Waste Forum: Multi-stakeholders Platform on Sustainable Food Supply and Consumption for Food Waste Reduction" in Beijing on November 26th. [Chinagate.cn/Photo by Liu Hui]

    Over 100 professionals from the government, the business community, science institutions, non-governmental organizations and international organizations gathered in Beijing on November 26th for the "Food Waste Forum: Multi-stakeholders Platform on Sustainable Food Supply and Consumption for Food Waste Reduction", to promote the knowledge-sharing initiative for the global measurement and reduction of food loss and waste.

    A report published by the FAO in 2013 showed that 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year – in fields, during transport, in storage, at restaurants, and in markets.

    Xie Yuhong, Deputy Secretary General of the All-China Environment Federation (ACEF), delivered an opening remark at the event in which she stated: "It is no secret that food loss and waste is a big problem." Economically, food loss and waste constitutes a wasted investment lowering the income of farmers and multiplying the expenses of consumers. Environmentally, it inflicts a host of damage, such as the inefficient use of water and land, which in turn worsens the condition of natural ecosystems and impede the services they provide.

    "Take food decomposition for example: large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 27 times more potent than carbon dioxide, is released into the atmosphere as a result of food decomposing in landfills."

    She added that China is already on its way to reduce per capita food waste during processing and consumption, aiming to achieve its goals through policy guidance, technological innovation, and the transformation of consumption models.

    Dr. Jiang Nanqing, the National Programme Official from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) China, said that UNEP aims to strengthen cooperation with all countries in order to ensure the implementation of target 12.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goal, which calls for the global halving of household and retail food waste by 2030, and the reduction of food losses across the supply chain.

    "In 2013, we launched a campaign called 'Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint', which aims to accelerate action and provide a global vision for the many and diverse initiatives currently underway around the world. In recent years, China, along with UNEP, has taken actions on food loss and waste, such as the 2016 Sustainable Consumption Week on Green Life," she said.

    Dr. Cheng Shengkui gives a full overview of food loss and waste in China and Asia at the forum. [Chinagate.cn/Photo by Liu Hui]

    To further the dialogue on reaching China's food waste reduction goal, Dr. Cheng Shengkui, Director of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), claimed that data-based tracking and analytics tools, along with the Multi-stakeholders Platform, played an important role in the fight against food waste and loss across the world.

    "By analyzing the data we collected, we were able to better understand what kind of factors contribute to food waste and loss during processing and consumption," he said, adding that the collaboration from social media, nonprofits, foundations, government leaders and international communities is needed to develop practical solutions.

    Asa Margareta Stenmark, Director of the IVL Environment Research Institute, agreed with Cheng that data comparison and analysis could be used for the specific targeting of food wasted by consumers, retailers, the catering industry and others. "It could help us recall what our first priorities are as food loss and waste occurs along the entire agricultural value chain."

    At last, she recommended methods for the treatment of food waste, including material recycling, biological treatment and energy recovery. For example, food waste can be treated biologically using an anaerobic digestion or composting system, which converts waste into fertile soil.

    Jointly organized by UNEP, ACEF, IGSNRR of CAS, and the IVL Environment Research Institute, the event also won the support of the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the REFRESH Project funded under the European Union Seventh Framework Programme, and the UN Theme Group on Climate Change and Environment.
    (This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)
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