Veolia’s Iftar Debate Sparks Discussion on Food Waste and Food Security

Veolia’s Iftar Debate Sparks Discussion on Food Waste and Food Security

Leading voices in the field discussed innovative solutions to reduce food waste and support food security efforts in the UAE

Veolia Near & Middle East, the benchmark company for ecological transformation offering game-changing solutions for water, waste and energy management, hosted a special iftar debate on how to face food waste and food scarcity, especially in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Organized on 11 April 2023 in Dubai, the event brought together about 40 participants, including Pascal Grante, CEO of Veolia Near and Middle East; Thierry Dezenclos, Chief Executive Officer of Veolia UAE; as well as some of the leading voices in the field to discuss innovative solutions to reduce food waste and support food security efforts in the UAE.

The debate was moderated by Najia Qazi, Founder and CEO of Sustainable Narrative, and involved three speakers: Marie Therese Laguerre, Africa, Near & Middle East Strategy and Marketing Director at Veolia; William Ward, Regional Director at Green Eco Technologies; and Ceylan Uren, Co-founder of The WasteLab.

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Pascal Grante commented: "I thank our colleagues in the UAE for organizing this important event that served as a platform to raise awareness about the two critical topics that the world faces today – food security and food waste.

"The event is more relevant to the MENA region- the world's most water-scarce region where climate change-induced issues, including shrinking natural resources and increased pollution, threaten local agricultural production and economies.

"Therefore, we must join forces with all key stakeholders to ensure efficient use of these valuable resources and find sustainable, practical, and innovative solutions to address these issues."

Thierry Dezenclos said: "We are delighted to host this special iftar to breakfast together and discuss two important subjects that directly affect us and our environment.

"There could not have been a better time than the Holy Month of Ramadan to discuss how we can work together more efficiently and fill the gaps when it comes to food security and reducing food waste and understand what role we can play at the industry level and as individuals.

"I thank everyone for joining us today and making this event more rewarding, which was part of Veolia's efforts to share knowledge, build local capacities and find new approaches for a more sustainable ecosystem."

Speaking at the debate, Marie Therese Laguerre said: "I believe both food security and food waste require a multifaceted approach, which includes efficient use of resources such as water and energy, improving productivity through innovation, improving food storage facilities as well as reducing waste and repurposing it more sustainably.

"Moreover, we need to focus more on creating awareness on how food security and food waste are not just moral imperative but also essential for economic growth, social stability, and environmental sustainability for any nation."

For his part, William Ward highlighted how innovation plays a vital role in dealing with issues like climate change, food security and food waste. He spoke about Green Eco Technologies' WasteMaster technology.

This on-site commercial food waste solution doesn't use water or any additives in the process, reducing waste volume and repurposing it to valuable products -- as a soil enhancer or fuel for green energy, with further developments in the pipeline.

He further added that they are managing food waste processing from beginning to end thereby diverting food waste away from landfill. Moreover, the waste is reduced by up to 70% and the residue is repurposed as a soil enhancer or fuel for the creation of green energy.

Ceylan Uren said that food waste is a major global concern and accounts for millions of tons being lost or wasted daily.

She presented The WasteLab's off-site and on-site composting solutions and highlighted how this women-owned, Dubai-based and impact-driven startup sees waste as a valuable resource and works with individuals and businesses with a goal to turn every food scrap into a solution rather than a burden on our society and environment.

The overall aim of the event was to understand the current situation and discuss innovative solutions to address these issues, how big industries could play a role, and how we can involve more people to build awareness and contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event follows the recent survey conducted by Veolia to gauge public opinion about issues like climate change and pollution.

The survey called Ecological Transformation Barometer was a global study that used a sample reflecting the voice of more than half the world's population covering 25 countries across Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania.

It illustrated that 7 out of 10 people globally feel vulnerable to environmental risk and 89% of the world's population is convinced that climate change is happening and 67% are convinced of the need for change.

In the UAE, the survey presents a positive picture of the country, which has declared 2023 as the Year of Sustainability and gears to host the 28th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 28) in Dubai.

It showed that 10 people in the UAE are willing to accept 95% of the changes that come with green solutions, provided they pose no health risks, have bearable economic and cultural costs, and contribute to the country's food or energy security.

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