Achieving Mitigation by Reducing Food Loss and Waste
Global estimates suggest that up to one-third of food is lost or wasted and that food waste will increase further with diet shifts and increased incomes. Assessments of climate change mitigation priorities indicate that food loss and waste (FLW) contributes approximately 8 percent of annual global GHG emissions. Reductions in FLW have high potential for mitigation. Reducing FLW is a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 12.3). In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing FLW could increase food security, reduce land area required for food production and contribute to renewable energy options by reducing biomass loss.
Although both the public and private sectors are interested in reducing FLW and standards for accounting and policies are emerging, the data used to make decisions remain weak, especially in the developing world. There has been little analysis on emissions and potential mitigation; global estimates for FLW-related emissions remain coarse; and companies and countries remain unable to report on the climate change impacts of their efforts.
To meet demand around impacts of FLW interventions, USAID, CCAFS and partners are working together to build the evidence base for the potential of climate change mitigation from reduced FLW, starting in priority supply chains in developing countries. Results will support decision-making by governments, agri-food policymakers and supply chain actors.
Initial research conducted with USAID agricultural development projects working with 20 value chains in 12 countries found some interventions decreased food loss and waste – and therefore emissions – at multiple points along the food value chain, from upstream producer-dominated stages to downstream consumer-dominated stages. Results also showed that no single FLW solution or intervention works across all agriculture sub-sectors, value chain stages and countries.
Beginning in 2019, USAID and CCAFS will be supporting PhD students from developing countries for short-term scientific research to expand the evidence base for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from reduced food loss and waste in priority supply chains in developing countries. Fellows will quantify the greenhouse gas emissions and climate change mitigation impacts of FLW-reduction interventions in food supply chains, as well as estimate the cost of interventions and any constraints to implementation. With others in this cohort, these students will contribute to the development of a standardized methodology for estimating emissions that enables comparison of supply chains and can inform mitigation accounting.
It is expected that a greenhouse gas calculator tool for FLW and a standardized methodology for estimating emissions that enables comparison of supply chains and can inform national mitigation accounting will be available by 2021.
- Blog: Building the evidence-base: Young scientists to Research Impacts on GHG Emissions (January 2019)
- Call for proposals for short-term scientific research to expand the evidence base for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from reduced food loss and waste in priority supply chains in developing countries
- Report: Nash J, Peña O, Galford G, Gurwick N, Pirolli G, White J, Wollenberg E. 2017. Reducing food loss in agricultural development projects through value chain efficiency. CCAFS Working Paper no. 204.
- Report: Kiff L, Wilkes A, Tennigkeit T. 2016. The technical mitigation potential of demand-side measures in the agri-food sector: a preliminary assessment of available measures. CCAFS Report No. 15
- Info Note: Wilkes A, Kiff L, Wollenberg E. White J. 2016. Shifting food consumption to mitigate climate change is critical to fulfilling the Paris Agreement, but how? CCAFS Info Note.