By Ariyo Deborah
More than 3 billion people can’t afford a healthy diet, as food insecurity and global warming rise, thus governments and international development partners need to invest in sustainable food cold chains to decrease hunger, provide livelihoods to communities, and adapt to climate change, the UN has said.
At the 27th Climate Change Conference, COP 27, the Sustainable Food Cold Chains report, from UNEP, FAO, said food cold chains are critical to meeting the challenge of feeding an additional two billion people by 2050.
The Executive Director of UNEP, Inger Andersen, noted. “At a time when the international community must act to address the climate and food crises, sustainable food cold chains can make a massive difference.
“They allow us to reduce food loss, improve food security, slow greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, reduce poverty and build resilience – all in one fell swoop.”
The number of people affected by hunger in the world rose to 828 million in 2021, a year-on-year rise of 46 million.
Almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, up 112 million from 2019, as the economic impacts of the Covid pandemic drove up inflation.
All of this comes while an estimated 14% of all food produced for human consumption is lost before it reaches the consumer. The lack of an effective cold chain to maintain the quality, nutritional value and safety of food is one of the major contributors (12 per cent of total loss).
According to the report, developing countries could save 144 million tonnes of food annually if they reached the same level of food cold chain infrastructure as developed countries.
Reducing food loss and waste could make a positive impact on climate change, but only if the new cooling-related infrastructure is designed to use gases with low global warming potential, be energy efficient and run chibaon renewable energy.