For the 4th time a regional workshop took place within the framework of the Thünen-coordinated Collaboration Initiative Food Loss and Waste launched at MACS-G20. On October 15th, 2020, Thünen Institute together with the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) organised an event for the countries of the Gulf region.
Despite all adverse circumstances, the workshop was organized by Thünen Institute in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, which holds the G20 presidency of 2020. Due to the existing global travel restrictions and in order to ensure the health of the participants, the workshop was held in a corona-compatible format. Part of the Saudi participants met in Riyadh while all other participants joined in virtually. The workshop is part of the Thünen-driven Collaboration Initiative Food Losses and Waste launched at „Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists of G20 States“ (MACS-G20). In June 2017 experts from G20 member states were invited to Berlin as Germany held the chair of G20. In November 2018, the „Regional Dialogue on Food Loss and Waste: Latin American solutions and initiatives” was held in Buenos Aires/Argentina. Experts met in Tokyo/Japan for the "International Workshop on Food Loss and Waste Prevention targeting Southeast and East Asian region” in October 2019.
As a hybrid event, the workshop was shortened from two to half a day. On October 15, around 65 participants discussed topics of particular importance for the Gulf region in terms of the prevention of food waste. Particular emphasis was placed on the link between food security and food waste, business models for prevention, the contribution of households to this issue and the role of an unbroken cold chain as well as reliable infrastructure. Participants also reported on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the food supply chain in their countries and the measures taken to secure the supply and avoid unused surpluses.
Special emphasis was placed on the cultural characteristics of the region, such as the joint celebration of large festivals, which lead to above-average amounts of surplus food. In addition to technical solutions to the special challenges posed by the region´s specific climate, the conference therefore called for awareness-raising measures for all stakeholders. The host country Saudi Arabia is the only one in the Gulf region that has already published a baseline for the amount of food waste arising in 2019. Other countries in the region now want to follow this example and benefit from Saudi expertise.
Participants from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain and Germany as well as from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) represented academia, business, interest groups as well as public authorities. The aim of the workshop was to provide impetus for the establishment of regional networks and cooperation along the value chain for the future monitoring of food loss and waste and implementation of prevention measures.
Further information on the workshop can be found at the Initiative´s website.
The next regional workshop on food losses and waste is planned for 2021 in cooperation with Italy.