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DLG is taking part in the EU Citizens' Dialogue

In terms of agriculture and nutrition, 2021 will be focussing entirely on the international Food Systems Summit. With this summit, the food system will be looked at as a whole for the first time. In contrast to previous political summit meetings, all societal groups around the world have been actively participating over the past 18 months.

Very diverse aspects of a sustainable food system were discussed during the EU Citizens' Dialogue from 12 to 16 July. The dialogue forums were focussed on sustainable production, the prevention and reduction of food losses, antimicrobial resistances and sustainable labelling up to and including sustainable and healthy nutrition. Particular focus was placed on involving the young generation and their requirements in this debate.

The DLG Competence Centers Agriculture and Food were involved in the topic of 'Reduction of food losses', which is related directly to the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) project currently dealing with the same issue.

On 13 July, citizens from several EU Member States shared their experiences and views. In Belgium, for example Food Waste Prevention Ambassadors are travelling around and providing households with tips on how to store food properly in the refrigerator in order to reduce the amount of spoiled fresh goods being thrown away.

On the whole, it was shown that awareness in handling food requires improvement throughout Europe. This was reflected by the EU Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety's announcement that it was seeking to reform the regulations on best-before date labelling in order to create greater clarity. Besides the necessity of adapting and improving individual actions, however, requirements on food processors and retailers were also formulated.

The interfaces between processors and retailers are particularly important as regards food waste: there is a high risk that almost every return shipment from the retailers to the suppliers is designated as a waste batch. In Europe, a far higher percentage of food is classified as waste in the areas of processing, retail and consumption than in primary production.

The results of the discussions were presented to a selected committee of EU representatives (e.g. the EU Commissioner for Agriculture) on 16 July and will be incorporated into the EU's contribution to the international Food Systems Summit in September in this way.

Author: Thomas König, GIZ Business Scout for Development programme, 
seconded to DLG e.V. on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ),

Background information
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed on by the United Nations in 2015 are to be achieved by 2030. In arable farming terms, this means that our grain harvest will have been brought in exactly nine times by then. A snapshot shows that we are still a long way away from the global goal of 'Zero Hunger'. Last year, the number of people going hungry actually increased dramatically around the world!

As a consequence of this, the United Nations and its specialist organisations are making efforts to initiate new, decentralised campaigns that will contribute to healthier, more sustainable and more just food systems with the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS). "We are the first generation that can end hunger", appealed Dr Lawrence Haddad, Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), to all face-to-face and virtual participants in his address at the pre-summit on 26 July 2021 in Rome.