Launching New Initiatives to Reduce Food Waste and Shift Diets

An essential part of the Sustainable Development Goals—Target 12.3—calls for cutting food waste in half by 2030. In response, WRI created Champions 12.3, a group more than 40 international business, government and civil society leaders dedicated to achieving this target. The Institute also led development of the Food Loss and Waste Protocol and launched the Better Buying Lab for sustainable consumption.

One-third of all food the world produces each year—1.3 billion tons—is never eaten. If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the planet’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter. This uneaten food, more than enough to feed the one in nine people on the planet who still go hungry, is an enormous drain on limited natural resources. The UN addressed this challenge in Target 12.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to halve retail and consumer food waste by 2030, while reducing food loss in supply chains.

To meet this challenge, WRI launched Champions 12.3 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, bringing together a coalition of ministers, executives and leaders from nearly 40 governments, businesses and civil society groups to inspire ambition in curbing food loss and waste. The Champions quickly began leading by example. British grocery store chain Tesco helped develop the national Community Food Connection, which uses a mobile app to enable stores to donate surplus food to local charities and community groups.

WRI’s new Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard, created with FAO, UNEP and other partners, offers a clear international guide for measuring food loss and waste consistently and transparently. By measuring how much and where food is lost or wasted, stakeholders can set clear priorities and strategies. Every year, food loss and waste amounts to $940 billion in worldwide economic loss.

The human quest for food is fundamental to economic development, political stability and sustainable natural resources. If we don’t get this right, all else will fail.

Craig Hanson

Global Director, Food, Forests & Water Programs

The WRI Food team’s Better Buying Lab applies the best behavioral science and market research to encourage sustainable eating. The Institute’s report, Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future, examines the environmental benefits of plant-based foods and offers strategies to change individual behavior. Households, farmers, businesses and governments all have a role to play in transforming our food system.

Food loss and waste amounts to economic losses of $940 billion worldwide annually.