Many cities are faced with the challenge of rising urban food insecurity and the growing problem of rising food waste. In 2015, 19.8% of the urban population was moderately food insecure and 7.3% severely food insecure (WB and FAO, 2017). The increasing high consumption of packaged and ultra-processed food with low nutritional value has not only led to a rise in obesity, micronutrient deficiency, and diet-related non-communicable diseases, but is also driving the unsustainable agricultural expansion.
Urban dwellers have increasingly been disconnected from the production of their food, and very few cities are engaged in pursuing food strategies. This reliance on external sources and long-food chains have rendered current urban food systems vulnerable to shocks and disruptions, as made evident by the latest Covid pandemic. Policy makers now realize the urgent need to transform current food systems to become more efficient, healthy, inclusive, equitable, sustainable and resilient. Given their size and economic prominence, cities have a transformative power to support and accelerate the transformation of our food systems. Cities consume 75% of the world’s resources, including two thirds of the produced foods. Moreover, half of the world population lives in urban areas, and is projected to increase to 70% by 2050 with developing countries witnessing 95% of this expansion (UN). Research has shown that food supply chains, food environments and consumer behavior are key entry and exit points within the food system to drive the adoption of healthy sustainable diets and improve food waste practices.
Minimizing Plastic use and Reducing Food Loss
Minimizing plastic use and reducing food loss and waste, which costs the
global economy US$ 1 trillion annually, saves resources at the individual,
institutional, regional and global level. Thriving Solutions focuses on
facilitating the diffusion of circular and regenerative approaches that
design out waste and pollution, keeps products and materials in use to
the furthest extent, conceptualizing projects that offset carbon,
reducing water footprint and regenerates natural ecosystems.
One third of globally produced food is lost (at production, harvest, storage and processing stages) or wasted (at the retail and consumer level) thus costing the global economy more than US$ 1 trillion in losses per year and exacerbating poverty and hunger. Food waste lowers the profit of food producers and increases the cost on consumers, which in turn reduces access to food and undermines food and nutrition security. Moreover, the environmental costs of food loss and waste amount to US$700 billion.
Wasted food is sufficient to meet the food requirements of the world’s hungry without the need for expanding agricultural production. Today, 28% of the world’s agricultural area is used to produce food that is lost or wasted. If this land were a country, it would be the 2nd largest after Russia. Minimizing food waste has been identified as the 3rd top solution to mitigate climate change (Hawken, 2017). The greenhouse gases emitted during food production, distribution and decay of wasted food, ranks food waste as the third top emitter (FAO, 2018), compared with country emissions.