UNEP: New “First of its Kind” Tool Helps Avoid Global Food Waste

By | 26 May 2014

London, 23 May 2014 – In a world where over 840 million go hungry every day, achieving food security goes beyond increasing global food production. Better food systems and sustainable consumption and production approaches are needed to achieve food security for all.

A new tool, the Think.Eat.Save Guidance Version 1.0 – released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO), the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) as part of SAVE FOOD Initiative and FAO-UNEP Sustainable Food Systems Programme – provides guidance to governments, local authorities, businesses and others on designing effective food waste prevention programmes.

Research shows that at least one-third, or 1.3 billion tonnes, of food produced each year is lost or wasted – an amount corresponding to over 1.4 billion hectares of cropland. Even a quarter of this lost food could feed all the world’s hungry people.

According to the FAO, almost half of all fruit and vegetables is wasted each year. About 10 per cent of developed countries’ greenhouse gas emissions come from growing food that is never eaten, and food loss and waste amounts to roughly USD 680 billion in industrialized countries and USD 310 billion in developing countries.

“Food waste carries direct economic and environmental costs and depletes the natural resource base that underpins food production,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.                                                        

“Today, diets are becoming more resource-intensive, and the way we buy and consume food is changing due to industrialization, the demands of a growing middle class, and the continued impacts of the economic crisis.                                        

This first-of-its-kind guidance document on food waste prevention provides the technical expertise and impetus needed for a wide range of actors to take advantage of existing wisdom, catalyze action, and get a head start in tackling this critical issue,” he added.

Ensuring that all the world’s people have enough food is the vision of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Zero Hunger Challenge, and UNEP and the FAO are jointly charged under the challenge with reducing food loss and waste.

To this end, UNEP in partnership with FAO, Messe Düsseldorf GmbH,   WRAP and others, launchedThink.Eat.Save: Reduce your Foodprint (www.thinkeatsave.org) – a global campaign to galvanize concerted action on food waste. In its first year, this campaign has engaged more than a million participants in awareness-raising activities, reached a diverse global network of followers, and provided a portal to showcase ideas and share resources.

The Think.Eat.Save Guidance Version 1.0 presents a full journey for users of the tool, beginning with the mapping and measuring of food waste and the development of national or regional policies and measures. In-depth modules then focus on programmes for food waste prevention in households and in the food supply chain.

The guidance document provides clear and comprehensive steps on scoping, planning, delivering and measuring food waste prevention programmes and activities, at national, regional, business and household level. It has been built on proven experiences around the world, including that of the United Kingdom, where avoidable household food waste has been reduced by 21 per cent between 2007 and 2012.

The document published today is “Version 1.0”, to be enriched progressively as many more countries around the world begin to take on the challenge and reap the benefits of food waste reduction.

To this end, UNEP and FAO are recruiting pilot countries and cities without existing frameworks for food waste prevention to test the Think.Eat.Save Guidance  Version 1.0 over the coming years. Technical and strategic support will be provided to pilot countries and cities, as they initiate, define, deliver and monitor food waste prevention programmes.

The document will evolve further with the development of the Food Loss and Waste Protocol for food waste measurement to support coherent global data collection, being led by the World Resources Institute (WRI).

This practical guide is launched in anticipation of the forthcoming Committee on World Food Security High Level Panel of Experts Food Losses and Waste in the Context of Sustainable Food Systemsreport, which supports concerted and collective action. It also contributes to the recently agreed development of a new component to the 10 Year Framework of Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production, which will be dealing with “sustainable food systems”.



“Sustainable natural resources use is a key FAO priority. Fighting food loss and waste is an area in which partnerships are needed to reach the goal of eradicating hunger. This calls for effective governance systems and involvement of many stakeholders. We face a world with high and volatile food prices, urbanization, and climate change where coordination of strategies to reduce food waste can make a real difference,” said Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director General for Natural Resources.


Dr Liz Goodwin, CEO at WRAP, said: “We’re delighted to see this Guidance Version 1.0 being published today, and to have had the opportunity to work in collaboration with UNEP and FAO to develop it. Our work has helped consumers and businesses take significant strides to prevent and reduce their food waste in the UK. We hope that by assembling guidance and best practice from around the world it will encourage more action to tackle this crucial global issue.”

Notes to Editors

To download the guidance document, please visit: www.thinkeatsave.org (from 23 May 2014)

Structure of the Guidance Version 1.0

Module 1: Mapping and measuring of food and drink waste

This Module enables the user to scope the problem, by quantifying what is known about food waste, where it arises, and its impacts. Through mapping exercises, users can identify opportunities, barriers, and potential partners for food waste reduction. Aimed at national or regional government, this provides a powerful basis for strategy development.

Module 2: Options for developing national or regional policies and measures for food and drink waste prevention and reduction

This Module provides an overview of the mechanisms that can influence food waste, namely legislative measures, fiscal measures, information provision, and motivational strategies.

Module 3: Developing and implementing programmes to prevent and reduce household food and drink waste

This Module focuses on two proven approaches to reducing household food waste. 1) A household and consumer engagement campaign, raising awareness, encouraging behavior change, and equipping consumers with the necessary information, tools and skills. 2) Changes to product, packaging and labelling, enabling consumers to buy the right amount of food and use what they buy.

Module 4: Preventing and reducing food waste in the food and drink business supply chain (manufacturing, retail, hospitality and food service)

This Module provides guidance both for individual businesses (strategy design, tools and examples, and measurement and reporting) and for voluntary collective action programmes, providing a framework for businesses to work collaboratively across sectors and supply chains.

For further information please contact:

Shereen Zorba, Head of News and Media, UNEP, Tel. +254 788 526 000 or
Email: unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Moira O’Brien-Malone, Head, Communications, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, UNEP, Tel +33 1 44 37 76 12, mob +33 6 82 26 93 73, Email: moira.obrien-malone@unep.org

UNEP News Desk, unepnewsdesk@unep.org

About UNEP

Created in 1972, UNEP’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. Visit: www.unep.org

About FAO

 Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO’s efforts – to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. FAO’s three main goals are: eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations. Visit: www.fao.org

About SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction In May 2011 FAO launched the Global Initiative on food loss and waste reduction (also called SAVE FOOD Initiative) as a corporate effort together with the private sector trade fair organizer Messe Düsseldorf GmbH (Germany). SAVE FOOD works in partnership with donors, bi- and multi-lateral agencies, financial institutions, public, private sector and civil society for: (i) Awareness raising; (ii) Collaboration and coordination of world-wide initiatives; (iii) Evidence-based policy, strategy and programme development, including a methodology for assessing food loss; (iv) Technical support to investment programmes and projects. UNEP joined SAVE FOOD in January 2013. Visit: www.fao.org/save-food

About the FAO-UNEP Sustainable Food Systems Programme

The FAO/UNEP sustainable food systems program is catalysing partnerships among United Nations agencies, governments, private sector and civil society to promote activities that improve the sustainability of food consumption and production

Visit: http://www.fao.org/ag/ags/sustainable-food-consumption-and-production/en/


WRAP’s vision is a world where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership to help businesses, individuals and communities improve resource efficiency.

Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.



About Think.Eat.Save

The Think.Eat.Save campaign of the SAVE FOOD Initiative, is a partnership between UNEP, FAO and Messe Düsseldorf GmbH, and in support of the UN Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge, which seeks to add its authority and voice to these efforts in order to galvanize widespread global, regional and national actions, catalyse more sectors of society to be aware and to act, including through exchange of inspiring ideas and projects between those players already involved and new ones that are likely to come on board.