What does world hunger have to do with you? Reflections on International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste
by Lorrayne Isidoro Gonçalves/Brazil
Edited by Aruna Joshi/Nepal
Graphic by Javan Lev Poblador/Philippines
Leia em portugues aqui
I have been concerned about the garbage production in my community. Here, there is no selective collection of solid waste. Old furniture, glass and food scraps are thrown together in a dumpster. "Throwing away" all solid waste - waste that can be reused or recycled - is a problem, but I will emphasize the organic waste. Organic residues, such as food scraps that, if well managed, could be consumed or used in composting affect the life of the entire planet. This neglect, which sometimes goes unnoticed, contributes to socio-environmental problems such as hunger and global warming.
Hunger and Food Insecurity
Food insecurity and hunger are very present in the world and have gender marks. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2.3 billion people around the world (30%) do not have adequate access to food, which represents almost 1/3 of the world's population. Regarding hunger, almost 10% of people had no food on their plate. These data were likely aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires committed efforts from different sectors of society to meet the Zero Hunger goal of SDG by 2030.
According to the research conducted, it is estimated that there is enough food available to feed the entire world population. But hunger and food insecurity still persist. Poor food distribution and food waste contribute to this scenario. According to data from the United Nations, 1/6 of all world food production, 931 million tons was wasted in 2019. And most of this waste comes from our homes, retail, restaurants and other food services.
This is the reality for countries with different economic levels. “It is no longer just a problem for rich countries, where consumers simply buy more than they can eat. Now, it is also one of problem of the countries that are in the developing phase”, as pointed out by Fernanda Paúl in a BBC News Mundo article in 2021.
Global Warming and Climate Change
Food waste also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, agriculture contributes to 10% of worldwide emissions. For countries such as Brazil, this contribution is even greater. Of the total emissions from the Brazilian territory, 44% are related to changes in land use, which should be one of the focal points of change to achieve the Paris Agreement goals.
The impacts of climate change such as the increase and intensity of extreme weather events link floods and dry, sea level rise and increase of temperature directly affect agricultural production systems, reducing the quantity and nutritional value of food. Furthermore, these impacts affect people unequally, with women, the elderly and people with low economic power being the most affected by these adversities.
Food waste must be avoided to ensure the health of all living beings and the planet.
If you're in the same boat as me, you might be wondering how we can help reduce waste and the world's hunger problem, as it's a multifaceted issue and affects all of us. You can take your valuable time, perhaps on the “International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste” itself, to reflect on what you do and can do to contribute to solving this situation.
What you can do depends on the context you are in. Remember that this problem will not be solved by a single person, but by several people with different roles in society.
Some of the tips that I think will be helpful for your reflections:
These reflections can help all of us move towards a fair and responsible world that prioritizes global and planetary health.
Lorrayne Isidoro Gonçalves is currently based in Rio de Janeiro. She was a former Chief Director for the ATO-ClimatEducate Project. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Nowadays, Lorrayne works in advocacy of global environmental issues and she is engaged in science in infectious diseases, health education and climate change education. She believes in the power of the young to promote actions for a fair and responsible world.