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COP26: Bezos pledges US$2B to bolster food systems and curb food waste

November 7, 2021
Food & Drink

Amazon founder and second richest person in the world Jeff Bezos is addressing food players’ role in slowing the warming of the planet at the ongoing COP26. At the summit in Glasgow, Scotland, he announced that the Bezos Earth Fund will offer a cash injection of US$2 billion toward landscape restoration and improving food systems.

Some of the funds will go towards increasing crop yields in ways that decrease levels of food loss and waste, and encourage people to eat diets richer in plant-based foods.

“We must conserve what we still have, we must restore what we’ve lost, and we must grow what we need to live without degrading the planet for future generations to come,” remarks Bezos.

Hitting the US$3 billion mark
The UN World Food Programme has been actively calling for billionaires to fund more of its activities. Earlier this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that he will donate US$6 billion to the UN’s anti-famine division if it can reasonably map out how it will “end world hunger.”

Bezos Earth Fund is planning to join up with Africa-owned partners AFR100 to help restore African landscapes by planting trees, strengthening grasslands and bringing more trees into farmland.

The new pledge adds onto Bezos Earth Fund’s previous US$1 billion commitment announced in September at Climate Week NYC, to help communities protect and preserve nature in areas that are important for biodiversity and carbon stocks.

“Together this US$3 billion in pledges will drive a new three-fold nature agenda for the Bezos Earth Fund, focused simultaneously on conservation, restoration and food transformation,” says Bezos.

CEO of The African Union Development Agency-NEPAD, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, comments: “Africa is home to the world’s greatest restoration opportunity, with more than 700 million hectares of degraded land that can be restored.”

“Africa is the continent most dependent on the land for livelihoods and most vulnerable to climate change. Africa must therefore lead the way.”

Allocation of funds
The Bezos Earth Fund is a US$10 billion commitment launched by Bezos in February 2020, to support scientists, NGOs, activists and other important figures to help produce positive climate and nature-based solutions.

These funds will be allocated between now and 2030, the year in which the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals must be met.

“For too long we have ignored the solutions that nature provides for us. Protection and restoration of our Earth is key to protecting and restoring our future,” says Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief and founding partner of Global Optimism.

“Key to our success will be reforming the way in which we produce and consume food, which is driving global warming, species loss and inequality, rather than nourishing ourselves and our planet.”

Calling time on failing systems
Just a few weeks after Innova Market Insights crowned “Shared Planet” as its Top Trend for 2022, world leaders at COP26 are stressing how failure to tackle global warming – keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees – will inevitably lead to increased global competition for resources such as food and water.

The Glasgow summit bridges industry with government-led action. It was at the event that the US and EU announced a new global partnership to slash methane emissions by 2030 – the Global Methane Pledge – which aims to limit methane emissions by 30%, compared to 2020 levels.

F&B stakeholders are appropriately calling time on unsustainable practices. In a recent campaign, a coalition of 25 breweries from across the UK and Ireland crafted a new beer to form a limited-edition collection of 26 beers that use surplus bread that would otherwise have gone to waste.

Transparency now
Myths and misunderstandings surrounding corporate sustainability communications are “crumbling,” according to Innova Market Insights, so it has never been more important to engage in honest and open communication with consumers.

The market researcher underscores that consumers now rank planetary health as their number one concern, overtaking personal health, which has been the top priority in recent years.

Foundation Earth recently launched a pilot program to test consumer response to a science-backed environmental scoring system.

Eco-labeling is anticipated to rise in popularity, as these front-of-pack indicators are designed to help consumers assess the overall environmental impacts of the products they buy while accelerating industry’s journey toward net-zero emissions.

Meanwhile, advances in AI, blockchain, machine learning, robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT) are anticipated to raise the bar for digital traceability solutions such as smart labeling and digital tracing at speed.

By Benjamin Ferrer


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