World Food Day is an annual global environmental campaign aimed at raising awareness to end world hunger. It commemorates the day the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was founded in 1945. Every year on 16 October governments, businesses and communities around the world take action to eradicate world hunger. Activities include reducing food loss and waste, increasing the demand for sustainable and nutritious food, and limiting climate change and environmental degradation.
Agri-food systems encompass the three areas of food production, distribution, and consumption. These systems face multiple challenges. They must provide low-cost, nutritious food to seven billion people, with demand set to increase in the future. At the same time, agri-food systems must support the livelihoods of one billion people – more than any other industry – and create value and economic profitability. In addition, there is the challenge of limiting the impact of food production on the environment to ensure the ability to produce food in the future. Agri-food systems put pressure on natural resources and soils, pollute and destroy natural habitats, and release greenhouse gasses.
To overcome these challenges, the systems must become more sustainable. There is a need to change the way food is produced and consumed, and to grow more sustainable food that is nutritious, adds value and income to farmers, and relieves the burden on the environment.
Companies and organisations on the food production and distribution side of agri-food systems are the designated drivers of change. EMAS can help businesses and organisations that want to integrate sustainable practices into their business activities and improve their environmental impact. The implementation of an environmental management system like EMAS helps lower emissions and energy and water consumption as well as reduce and better manage waste.
EMAS provides the farmer with a legal compliance tool (essential in a highly regulated sector in terms of the environment but also hygiene and quality requirements), monitoring, availability and traceability of data and indicators, and efficient operational controls.
Furthermore, EMAS facilitates the implementation of additional environmental requirements, e.g. organic farming or carbon footprint, and can provide critical support for farmers who want to go a step further.
EMAS organisations comply with all legal environmental requirements and their environmental performance is regularly audited by external parties. Overall, they are well-placed to lead the way to sustainable change in the agri-food sector.
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