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Sustainable development

Millions going hungry, whilst Europe wastes 50% of its food

11 March Mar 2016 1305 11 March 2016
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With food wastage at an all-time high and a predicted increase of 40% by 2020, EU Dutch presidency is asking civil society and the European Economic and Social Committee to provide exploratory opinions and solutions to the problem that is seeing over 1/3 of food produced globally going into the garbage.

Each year up to 50% of food gets wasted in EU households, supermarkets, restaurants and along the food supply chain. Meanwhile, 79 million of EU citizens are living beneath the poverty line, and over 16 million depend on food aid from charitable institutions.

Currently, food wastage in the EU weighs in at 89 million tonnes per annum (i.e. 179 kg per capita). That’s equivalent to 165,000 jumbo jets worth of food.

If no action is taken, the projection for 2020 is that Europeans will be wasting 126 million tonnes per year. This is a huge increase: 40% more food wastage to be exact.

Food waste prevention and reduction are important aspects in the wider context of food security and resource efficiency. The second of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. With ⅓ of food being produced for human consumption going to waste worldwide, there is a clear need to tackle food wastage.

Civil society is calling on the EU Commission to “tackle the issue of sustainable food systems in a more holistic manner. For example promoting sustainable agricultural production while ensuring "the right to food" for the Earth's growing population, reducing food loss and waste, and enhancing sustainable consumption, as set out in the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.”

Meeting in Brussels today, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has received a request from the Dutch EU Presidency for an exploratory opinion on how to achieve sustainable food systems in a resource-constrained world.

Some proposed possible solutions are for example this project on food waste, and the various activities of the Permanent Study Group on Food Security. The exploratory opinion would also build on the outcome of the Milan Expo 2015 "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life".

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