Anticipating COP28 and the key role of the UAE in the global efforts to address climate change, ne’ma, the National Food Loss and Waste initiative, has partnered with the organizers of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) and its key national contributors to talk the walk and involve national stakeholders in its goal of reducing food loss and waste by 50% by 2030.
Throughout ADSW, which was held on 14-19 January 2023, ne’ma and Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) partnered in “ADSW: Towards Zero Food Waste,” a pilot initiative that is part of ne’ma’s goal for 2030 and the first-time initiative to be organised at such a large event.
The largest sustainability event in the region, ADSW brought together more than 30,000 attendees from 150 countries worldwide. It was visited by more than 60 heads of state, members of royalty, ministers, and senior global experts on the different aspects of sustainability. A dozen of specialised events were organised on the event’s sidelines, offering ne’ma’s team the chance to demonstrate its purpose of bringing key stakeholders together under its umbrella and proving that curbing food loss and waste is possible.
For the “ADSW: Zero Food Waste” initiative, ne’ma partnered with key national stakeholders, including Masdar, ADNEC – Capital Catering + Services, Emirates Red Crescent’s Hefz Al Nema, Reloop by Ecyclex, Pearl Rotana Hotel, and Tamkeen. Over three days of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), around 3 tonnes of food waste was collected and diverted from landfill, 400 kg of food surplus was redistributed, and around 1000 meals were donated.
Three tonnes of food waste could feed some 7,000 people. By diverting food waste from landfill, ne’ma prevented the emission of 7.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases. The food waste collected was turned into more than 500 kg of compost that was detoured back to nature as a fertilizer, covering more than 200 sqm of farmland.
“It’s only through collaboration with our national partners at every level that we can achieve our food loss and waste goals, maintain our national resources, and honor our national commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals ahead of COP28, due to be held later this year in the UAE. Engaging the whole community and raising public awareness about the significance of this issue are key components of our strategy,” commented H.E. Ahmed Al Shamsi, Emirates Foundation’s CEO and Board Member of ne’ma Committee, as he describes ne’ma’s presence and activities during ADSW.
Capital Catering + Services, a subsidiary of ADNEC Group with a forward-looking approach to sustainability, played a key role in the “ADSW: Towards Zero Food Waste” initiative. ADNEC and its catering arm have already invested in advanced technologies to reduce food waste.
“We are pleased to collaborate with ne’ma to support its national agenda and work on managing food waste, including segregation, collection, and diversion from the landfill, as well as redistribution of food surplus. Capital Catering + Services, part of ADNEC Group has been working on reducing food waste for years. We are happy to scale it up under the national initiative,” said Jonathan Dowse, CEO of Capital Catering + Services.
Hefth Al Nema team helped rescue and redistribute the initiative’s 1000 meals to communities in need. Red Crescent’s Hefth Al Nema is a project that has been active in liaising with UAE households and food outlets to collect edible surplus food, package it, and distribute it to disadvantaged people.
“We were excited to work with ne’ma on this initiative. We have been working on rescuing food for years now, and finally, we see everybody collaborating under this national umbrella that will hopefully mobilise the nation and orchestrate our collective efforts,” said Sultan Al Shehhi, Manager of Hefth Al Nema project at the UAE Red Crescent.
The food that was rescued during the 3-day initiative was collected by “Reloop’’; a mobile application developed by Ecyclex to facilitate the collection and segregation of waste from end users and organisations for various types of recycling. In this case, it helped segregate food waste and divert it for composting and reuse for agricultural purposes.
“We feel privileged to work closely with ne’ma on its goal of halving food waste in the UAE by 2030. We have been harnessing innovation and technology to develop solutions for tracking, collection, recycling, and disposal of all kinds of waste, and we are excited to help now in addressing the food waste issue, composting food waste and returning it to mother nature as a fertilizer” said Mohammed Abdulmoti, Co-founder of “Reloop”.
During ADSW, ne’ma contributed to the various activities of the event. It partnered with Tamkeen to cohost the FoodTech Challenge competition to encourage innovative startups to use technology and innovation to address the food loss and food waste issue. ne’ma helped introduce the competition finalists to key stakeholders at Zayed Sustainability Prize ceremony held during the event. To involve the various sectors of the community, ne’ma took part in the Women in Sustainability, Environment, and Renewable Energy (WiSER) forum and the Youth for Sustainability (Y4S) Hub, presenting in both events ne’ma’s mission and calling for active engagement of women and youth in the efforts for a sustainable future.
To raise public awareness of the size of the food waste problem, ne’ma installed an art sculpture that took the form of a large waste bin, full of discarded food, along with cubic blocks on which key messages were written to highlight the gravity of the problem. The sculpture aimed to engage ADSW’s visitors and the public in the national campaign to rationalise food consumption and to sign a pledge by scanning the QR code placed on the cubic blocks.
Along with Tamkeen, ne’ma co-hosted the Sustainable Networking Lunch and used the event to raise awareness about ADSW: Towards Zero Food Waste initiative, in collaboration with the Pearl Rotana Hotel and other stakeholders.
With ADSW, ne’ma has started a robust national drive and managed to put the issue of food loss and food waste not only on the agenda of major national stakeholders but also on the public realm where every member of society has a role in achieving its short-term and long-term goals. It will continue to work on creating and enabling an environment and an efficient ecosystem to reach its food waste reduction targets.