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Speech by Commissioner Kyriakides at the Food Waste Conference: "Time's up for Food Waste! Setting the EU Action Agenda Towards 2030"

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op donderdag 12 december 2019.

Speech by Commissioner Kyriakides, in charge of Health and Food Safety at the Food Waste Conference: "Time's up for Food Waste! Setting the EU Action Agenda Towards 2030"- 7th Meeting of the EU platform on Food losses and Food Waste, in Brussels

Ms. Husu-Kallio, Members of the Platform, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to join you today, and to meet so many of you for the first time.

Food waste is going to have an important role to play in this Commission's sustainability agenda. I'm delighted we're able to meet so soon in my mandate to exchange views and establish what I hope will be a strong and constructive working partnership for the years to come.

The Commission has already taken important action on food waste prevention. During the next five years, I will continue to build on this and ensure that Europe makes strong and concrete progress in food loss and waste to help us meet our domestic and global sustainability goals.

I also want to thank the Finnish Presidency for their support in organising this conference, and you - the members of the EU Platform - for your continued efforts to address food waste and for the recommendations you will present later today.

I know they will provide fresh impetus for action.

***

Let me begin with a few words on how we will tackle food waste under the new Commission.

President von der Leyen has set an ambitious agenda for a stronger, greener, and more democratic Europe. Yesterday, we presented the European Green Deal - a comprehensive package, and a key tool, to address Europe's sustainability challenges in a more holistic way.

The Green Deal strives for more.

It is a historic vision to transform our continent.

Amongst others, it aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, with the help of a new European Climate Law.

It aims to establish a new industrial strategy, to make Europe a world leader in circular economy and clean technologies. It aims to curtail biodiversity loss within the next 5 years, and move towards zero-pollution. These objectives require collective action and cooperation across all sectors of society, industry and government to succeed.

***

An essential part of the Green Deal is the new “Farm to Fork” Strategy - a Strategy that will help us build more sustainable food systems, and drive more sustainable consumption.

This Strategy will take shape over the coming months and I will present it in Spring next year. The very significant challenge of food loss and waste will have a critical part to play.

There is no denying - our food systems are under considerable and constant pressure. They weigh heavily on the environment, on public health and health systems, and on social equality.

They are the backdrop to morally uncomfortable contradictions. While food is safe and plentiful in the EU, food insecurity remains an issue for 36 million people.

While resources are shrinking, we waste a fifth of the food we produce.While more information on healthy living is available than ever before, over half the EU's adult population is overweight, contributing to a rise in diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

These trends are simply not sustainable. The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that we need to urgently transform the way we produce food and manage land.

It says greenhouse gas emissions can be cut by consuming healthy and sustainable diets and by reducing food waste. It's a very clear message.

Change is essential -- to improve the lives and well-being of EU citizens, to ensure healthy ecosystems, and to create new, green and inclusive economic growth that leaves no one behind.

The questions now are:

  • How fast can we achieve this?
  • And how do we ensure the transition that we need to make to achieve this is fair for everyone?

***

The “Farm to fork” strategy is part of the EU's answer to this challenge. It will support a holistic rethink of the way we produce and consume food, and the impact it has on broader social, economic and environmental objectives.

It aims to set the agenda and lead the way for a global transition to more sustainable food systems, in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Reducing food loss and waste is a key part in this process.

Our efforts to halve food waste by 2030, and reduce losses along the food production and supply chains, will make an important contribution to other key objectives.

These include:

  • Tackling climate change;
  • Saving nutritious food for those in need;
  • Bringing cost-savings for farmers, companies and households.

The work you have done - in particular, the members of the Platform - has enabled the EU to move forward on this, and in some cases, deliver impressive results. Your work will be essential in the next phase as we design the Farm to Fork Strategy.

I look forward to joining you as collaborators on this journey - and to taking on board your valuable input.

***

I must admit, the last two months have been a steep learning curve and a period of intense study. I have learned a great deal about many topics I wasn't previously working on directly - including food loss and waste.

Some of the statistics have shocked me. But I am also pleased that concrete results have already been delivered as part of the 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan.

My many years in the health sector have taught me that data and evidence are at the heart of any successful policy initiative. Accurate and consistent data help deliver effective policies.

The EU's new waste legislation introduced important changes to ensure consistent measurement of food waste levels across the EU.

It requires Member States to implement national food waste prevention programmes, reduce food waste, and monitor and report on food waste levels.

To help in these efforts, by the end of 2023, EU legislation will oblige EU Member States to regularly report on food waste levels. This will allow us to look at the feasibility of establishing EU-wide targets for food waste reduction.

Thanks to these measures, the EU will become a global front-runner in the introduction of large-scale, coordinated monitoring of food waste levels. This will enable us to set further objectives and assess progress.

***

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am a firm believer in the value of partnerships and collaborative action. The EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste is an excellent example of what we can achieve by working together.

With your support, the Commission has adopted EU guidelines on food donation, and the use of food no longer intended for human consumption as animal feed. It has helped develop food waste measurement methodology, and undertaken work to improve date marking practices.

Today, your “Recommendations for action” will be published. These will make an important contribution to the EU's food waste action plan and, more generally, to the redesign of food systems.

I am very grateful for this valuable support and input.

***

Dear friends and colleagues,

I am confident that over the next 5 years, we can accelerate the EU's progress towards the global goal of reducing food losses and halving food waste by 2030. With the tools we now have in place - and with your experience and expertise, I believe we are moving in the right direction.

However, there is no doubt we have some way to go. We need to accelerate and intensify our efforts.

Fighting food loss and waste requires us to rethink how we produce, process, market, distribute and consume food. It requires concrete and collective action - from policy makers, individuals and households, farmers, fishers, food manufacturers and retailers, restaurants and caterers, food banks and other non-governmental organisations.

We need to harness the power of innovation, and develop new business models that support the shift to healthy, sustainable food systems that leave no one behind. Yesterday's Green Deal has set an ambitious agenda for holistic, systemic change, including our food systems. It is about people, prosperity and the planet.

Using this as our framework, and the farm to fork strategy as our tool, we can work together to design stronger, more sustainable and less wasteful food systems.

Your recommendations will provide valuable input.

I look forward to learning the outcome of today's discussions and to working with you all in the next five years.

Time's up for food waste! Let's make our objectives a reality.

Thank you.


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