Dr Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi and other officials taking part in the upcycled iftar. Image Credit: Ministry of Climate Change and Environment

Dubai: Sending out a strong message against food wastage during Ramadan and beyond, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) hosted an upcycled iftar, utilising food that would have otherwise been wasted.

Hosting high-level public and private sector officials, the iftar was held in partnership with food tech company Winnow and leading UAE-based global property developer Emaar.

The creative, healthy and delicious iftar dishes, for example, featured underutilised cuts of meat and overripe fruits, sending out a powerful message to local and global communities to prioritise judicious food consumption and eliminate food wastage.

Highlighting the idea behind the unique event, Dr Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, pointed out that the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations reported that roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — is either lost or wasted.

cost to the UAE’s economy annually due to food wastage

In the UAE, food wastage costs the national economy around Dh13 billion annually.

“Today, I am pleased to reaffirm the UAE’s commitment to meeting the global target to reduce food loss and wastage by 50 per cent by 2030 as per the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 12 that underscores sustainable consumption and production. As part of this priority, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is working closely with local authorities and the private sector to reduce food loss through the production and consumption cycle,” said Dr Al Zeyoudi.

He announced that UAE-based hospitality companies are ready to take on the challenge to reduce food wastage, pledging to save one million meals by 2018 end.

“This target will be increased to two million meals in 2019 and three million meals in 2020. Companies that are already on-board this noble mission include Emaar, Majid Al Futtaim and Rotana. I invite others to participate in this pledge,” he added.

Olivier Harnisch, chief executive officer of Emaar Hospitality Group, welcomed the initiative.

“This is a remarkable initiative that not only underlines the UAE’s commitment towards a sustainable future but is also a tangible step in preventing food wastage. This serves as an inspiration for every section of the community, especially for the hospitality sector that can lead the change through measures that promote the judicious use of food resources. At Emaar Hospitality Group, we are honoured to be partnering in this event, and will continue to promote sustainable food management across all our hotels,” said Harnisch.

Marc Zornes, co-founder and CEO of Winnow, hailed the UAE hospitality sector’s efforts in spearheading the global fight against food wastage.

“We are incredibly proud of the fantastic results chefs partnering with Winnow have achieved. These pioneers have proved that it is possible to do the right thing for both business and the planet. However, we are really just getting started, and we look forward to scaling our impact with our partners as we work towards an ambitious target of saving over one million meals a year from the bin,” said Zornes.