ISLAMABAD: As food insecurity and global warming rise, governments, international development partners and industry should invest in sustainable food cold chains to reduce hunger, provide livelihood to communities, and adapt to climate change, suggests a new United Nations report.

Launched at the 27th climate change conference (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh on Saturday, the Sustainable Food Cold Chains report, from the UN Environment Progr­amme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), finds that food cold chains are critical to meeting the challenge of feeding an additional two billion people by 2050 and harnessing rural communities’ resilience, while avoiding increased greenhouse gas emissions.

The number of people affected by hunger in the world rose to 828 million in 2021, a year-on-year rise of 46m.

Almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, up 112m from 2019, as the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic drove up inflation. This year, meanwhile, the conflict in Ukraine has raised the prices of basic grains, threatening food security.

The report was developed in the framework of the UNEP-led Cool Coalition in partnership with FAO, the Ozone Secretariat, UNEP OzonAction Programme, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.

“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,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Anderson. “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.”

All of this comes while an estimated 14 per cent 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 (12pc) of total loss.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2022

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