Full transcript of the keynote speech by PIM Director Karen Brooks at the Crawford Fund's Annual Conference "WASTE NOT, WANT NOT: The Circular Economy to Food Security" held on 29-30 August 2016 in Canberra, Australia.
Waste not, warm not: poverty, hunger, and climate change in a circular food system
Reduction of food loss and waste has received increased attention in recent years. Several spikes in food prices since 2008 have highlighted the hardship that poor people, and especially poor children, face when food is priced out of their reach. With as many as 800 million people still undernourished, of whom about 160 million are stunted young children, the fact that as much as 30% of food is lost or wasted appears unconscionable. Surely the loss could be recovered and channelled toward the hungry!
Much of the discussion of food loss and waste has been predicated on this assumption, with the related conclusion that better management and distribution of existing supplies could substitute for investment in increased productive capacity. The assumption is in part borne out by empirical evidence, but as is often the case, the full picture is more complex. Moreover, discussion of food loss and waste in terms of feeding the hungry misses the environmental benefits associated with better management of existing production. Food systems that lose and waste less will generate fewer greenhouse gases and contribute less to global warming. The economics of reduced loss and waste creates both winners and losers, but the environmental calculus has only winners. The policy and institutional arrangements of food systems that generate less loss and waste would look quite different from our present systems.
The full conference proceedings are available here.
“We are all part of the problem”: Karen Brooks’ keynote address at The Crawford Fund Annual Conference on food waste and loss (includes PowerPoint presentation and a Storify social media summary)