According to a new research produced by the UN Environment Programme’s Regional Office for West Asia, The State of Food Waste in West Asia, increased awareness, suitable policies, and a robust regulatory framework are needed to reduce food waste in West Asia.
The report, which was conducted in 12 countries across the region, provides a comprehensive picture of the current situation, which shows that around 34% of the food served is wasted, with estimates ranging from 100 to 150kg/cap of food waste occurring at the household level, which is comparable to levels in Western Europe and North America.
Countries in the region have distinct cultural practices that result in large amounts of food waste over short periods of time. For example, during the month of Ramadan, between 25% and 50% of the food made is wasted, according to study. The results of a survey to analyze the attitudes and behaviors that affect food waste in the region are also detailed in the report.
Data on national food loss and waste is essential for determining the scope of the problem, identifying hotspots, and evaluating policy responses. Several nations in the area, according to the research, require consistent assistance in establishing food waste baselines: only the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia executed a national food loss and waste baseline in 2019, led by the Saudi Grains Organization.
“This research is in line with international efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG 12), which aims to ensure that consumption and production patterns are sustainable. At the retail and consumer level, Target 12.3 advocates for reducing global food waste per capita. Our analysis throws attention on food waste in West Asia, given the significant amount of food lost each year and its consequences for food security, the environment, the economy, natural resources, and livelihoods “Sami Dimassi, UNEP’s Regional Director and Representative in West Asia, said as much.
“Through a regional program soon to be addressed with all nations in the region, our regional office is committed to supporting countries in filling gaps and scaling up projects that have been successfully implemented at the local level,” he added.
The Food Waste report also emphasizes the importance of promoting sustainable lifestyles and empowering youth to have a positive impact at the consumer level, raising awareness about the effects on the environment, economy, and food security, and promoting gender-inclusive strategies across the food value chain.