Coordinated by Champions 12.3, UNEP and the FAO, the new ‘123 Pledge’ highlights the connection between food loss and waste and the climate crisis and calls for concrete steps

A new pledge that challenges governments, businesses, chefs and others to commit to concrete measures to reduce food loss and waste has been launched to coincide with the COP27 meeting in Egypt.

The ‘123 Pledge’, coordinated by Champions 12.3, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and supported by WRAP, WWF and Rabobank, aims to accelerate action to reduce food loss and waste worldwide.

According to Champions 12.3, an estimated 13 per cent of food is lost in the food supply chain from post-harvest up to wholesale, with a further 17 per cent wasted at the retail and consumer level, costing the global economy over US$1tr per year.

Food loss and waste is also estimated to be responsible for more than four times the greenhouse gas emissions of all annual aviation.

“Food loss and waste drives up to 10 per cent of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, yet just a handful of countries mention it in their national climate plans,” said Liz Goodwin, senior fellow and director of Food Loss and Waste at World Resources Institute, which serves as secretariat of Champions 12.3. “None of the world’s biggest emitters are on that list. 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 at the FAO. “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.” 

Richard Swannell, interim CEO of WRAP, commented: “I fully support the ‘123 Pledge’ given the critical importance of tackling food loss and waste if we are to deliver against our collective climate goals. To deliver this we need action across the supply chain, from farm to fork. Helping citizens and companies reduce food loss and waste has never been more salient given the global food crises we are all facing. WRAP will work with governments, businesses and people to reduce costly food waste at home and across the supply chain as part of our shared global ambition to reduce the enormous contribution food waste makes to climate change, and keeping 1.5 alive.”

Groups taking the ‘123 Pledge’ must meet a number of requirements, including delivering commitments that are timebound and measurable and agreeing to provide annual progress reports. 

Such commitments have to link to at least one of five priority areas: integrating food loss and waste reduction into country and company climate strategies; reducing food loss and waste along supply chains; stimulating action at the national and subnational (city) level; measuring, reporting and creating policy and regulatory frameworks for food loss and waste reduction; and supporting behaviour change at the consumer level through awareness, education and enabling conditions.

“If we’re going to address the dual climate and biodiversity crisis, we can’t 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 programme 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.”