Viorel Gutu

FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Central Asia and Representative in Turkey

Honorable, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey Mr. Bekir Pakdemirli,

Ms. Fatma Şahin, President of the Union of the Municipalities of Turkey,

Ms. Dilara Koçak, Nutritionist, activist and ‘Zero Waste, Zero Hunger’ project supporter,

Distinguished guests and the media that joined us today,

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen

I am honored to open the current session, dedicated to strengthen and expand our cooperation with the Union of the Municipalities of Turkey within the SAVE YOUR FOOD campaign, which we launched together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in May. At this meeting, we aim to set the ground for yet broader cooperation and partnership aimed at reducing food loss and waste in Turkey. I believe that, no action can be truly transformative and efficient if it fails to be collective. Thus, joining our efforts is critical to achieve a real impact and stem the issue of food loss and waste now and in the future.Please allow me to begin with special thanks to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry for their cooperation on making this meeting possible.

Dear Friends,

During the recent pandemic many of us have had time to reflect on our basic needs and to reconsider our appreciation for something we often take for granted and something many go without: food. Although we now produce more than enough food to feed everyone in the world, our food systems are out of balance. Hunger, obesity, environmental degradation, food loss and waste are some of the issues that underline this imbalance. Reducing food loss and waste is therefore seen as a way to mitigate pressures on natural resources and improve food security and nutrition. International attention on food loss and waste is firmly reflected on the 2030 Agenda and while the challenges ahead remain significant, many countries are already taking action to reduce food loss and waste.

As FAO, we have been working to address the problem of food loss and waste at all levels and involving various stakeholders since 2011. To this end, FAO established SAVE FOOD Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction, which is aimed at encouraging a dialogue between industry, research, governments and civil society and thereby facilitating the development of effective measures. Under the umbrella of SAVE FOOD Initiative, FAO is implementing a number of research, capacity building and awareness raising activities and projects across Europe and Central Asia. In particular, last year in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and related stakeholders, we developed Turkey’s first National Strategy and Action Plan on the Prevention and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste. By doing so, we aimed to empower and provide guidance for policy- and decision-makers, as well as the actors who actively engage on the matter and other related issues such as food safety, sustainability of food systems and the environment.

The Action Plan of the Strategy comprises 95 concrete measures, including legal and policy, technical, education and communication measures, addressing the issue for each stage of the food value chain at both local and national levels. Among these, as many as 33 targeted actions were identified to be taken by local authorities and businesses to further improve food waste prevention, separation, and reuse. Adequate support and guidance from the Union of the Municipalities of Turkey would be crucial to deliver on the targets. However, the success of the National Strategy requires also a shift in the mind-set and behaviour of consumers. The on-going national SAVE YOUR FOOD campaign, is aimed to create awareness about the causes and impacts of waste among general public, as well as to inspire them to act to reduce it. The campaign shall also sensitize the public on how their everyday actions are important to transform and improve our food systems. We encourage all to support the campaign and its key message: Gidani Koru. Sofrana Sahip Çık! A toolkit, including all communication materials, was developed and made available to the interested stakeholders to roll out the campaign at local and regional levels for a greater impact.

Like with other complex, multifaceted problems, the fight against food loss and waste calls for close partnership and collaboration, which, we believe, we will establish today. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry for their partnership and the Union of the Municipalities of Turkey for their support of the fight against food loss and waste.

Teşekkür ederim.