Leaders unite in Davos to tackle food waste

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Global food wast costs $940bn per year
Global food wast costs $940bn per year

Related tags Food waste Greenhouse gas Carbon dioxide Beef Lamb Pork

A thirty-strong team of CEOs, politicians and agri-food experts will spearhead a global initiative to cut food waste by 50%, after meeting at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.

The Swiss ski resort of Davos is, for a few days, awash with world leaders, chief executives and Hollywood stars as the World Economic Forum looks to solve the great issues of our time including food wastage.

Dubbed the Champions 12.3 taskforce – which includes the chief executives of Nestlé, Tesco and Unilever – they will mobilise action on food wastage by encouraging and inspiring an international drive to meet the UN’s target for cutting food waste.

Food waste costs $940bn

Food waste happens from farm to fork
Food waste happens from farm to fork


Nearly one third of all food is lost or wasted globally, costing $940bn per year, say the United Nations. This waste accounts for approximately 8% of yearly carbon dioxide emissions.

Out of these alarming figures, Target 12.3 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals was born. It aims to halve food waste and reduce food loss globally by 2030 and will be what the Champions 12.3 taskforce works towards.

In a statement published on 21 January, the leaders said that cutting food waste can be seen as a triple win: It can save money for farmers, companies, and households; wasting less can feed more people; and reductions can alleviate pressure on climate, water, and land resources.

Food lose geography
Food loss by geographic region


Food waste ‘must be tackled’

Reducing food loss and waste is a significant global challenge and it’s very important that business plays its part,​” said Dave Lewis, CEO of Tesco and chair of Champions 12.3.

At Tesco, we’re committed to tackling food waste not only in our own operations but also through strong and effective partnerships with our suppliers and by helping our customers reduce waste and save money. This is an opportunity for businesses to work together and make a real difference to Target 12.3.​”

Worldwide, food loss and waste impedes food security and fuels climate change. For advancing the agreed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development this issue must be tackled today,​” said the Netherlands vice-minister for agriculture, Dr Hans Hoogeveen.

Food that is ultimately lost or wasted consumes about a quarter of all water used by agriculture, requires cropland area the size of China, and is responsible for an estimated 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Through their leadership the Champions 12.3 will be able to connect these challenges, by forming smart alliances, bringing together leaders from private sector, local communities, famers, science and government.​”

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