Three ways G20 countries can set an example ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit

In the recently adopted Matera Declaration, the world’s largest economies committed to addressing global food security and nutrition.

But as the latest Food Sustainability Index (FSI) shows, this effort must begin at home. A new assessment of the G20, which includes among others the UK, the US, France and Italy, found room for improvement on food sustainability not only for their own sakes but also to set an example for the rest of the world as the UN prepares to host the first Food Systems Summit.

With the latest figures finding between 720 and 811 million people undernourished in 2020, and almost 120 million additional people going hungry because of the Covid-19 pandemic, addressing the failings in food systems is more urgent than ever.

Given that G20 countries represent 60 per cent of the global population while generating 75 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and 80 per cent of its economic output, these states have the resources and the responsibility to take action to address food loss and waste, sustainable agriculture, and nutrition challenges.

With around 930 million tonnes – more than 15 per cent – of food wasted every year, one crucial first step towards greater sustainability would be for governments to invest in ways to measure food loss and waste across all tiers of the food supply chain. Although three-quarters of G20 members have national strategies and targets for reducing food loss and waste, none currently has a plan for accounting for those losses or monitoring the success of its reduction strategy.

Even Australia, which – together with Argentina, Canada and the US – has the most ambitious target to reduce food loss by 50 per cent by 2030, published its strategy without having a baseline measurement of existing losses.

Another way to accelerate the transition towards greater sustainability is to demonstrate and enshrine the rewards of healthy, sustainable choices throughout the food chain.

In this regard, the EU has set a strong example with its Biodiversity Strategy and Farm to Fork Strategy along with forthcoming legislation to reduce the bloc’s contribution to global deforestation through imports of products like soy and palm oil.

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