American University awarded $15M to solve world’s food waste problem! plus Milan, Italy: EarthShot Prize Finalist. Introducing climate champion Fadoua Brour and the Moroccan Youth Climate Movement she founded.
American University to Solve World’s Food Waste Problem, Milan, Italy: EarthShot Prize Finalist, Climate Champ Fadoua Brour & the Moroccan Youth Climate Movement
EARTHSHOT PRIZE FINALIST—CITY OF MILAN FOOD POLICY
We’ve talked about it a lot here on The Climate Daily–A third of all food produced globally is wasted. Each discarded food item uses precious resources and heaps pressure on agriculture. The global food system generates between 25-30% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions suffer from food insecurity.
The City of Milan’s Food Waste Hubs tackle two problems in one. Launched in 2019 with the aim of cutting waste in half by 2030, each hub recovers food mainly from supermarkets and companies’ canteens and gives it to NGOs who distribute it to the neediest citizens.
Milan is the first major city to enforce a city-wide food waste policy encompassing public agencies, food banks, charities, NGOs, universities and private businesses. And it is working. Today the city has three Food Waste Hubs, each recovering about 130 tonnes of food per year or 350 kg per day, an estimated 260,000 meals equivalent.
Milan has created a blueprint that can be scaled throughout the world. If more follow Milan’s lead, cities may become one of our greatest assets in humanity’s progress toward a waste free world. Go Milan. Way to help make up for the Youth4Climate conference.
MOROCCAN CLIMATE CHAMPION, FADOUA BROUR
One of the many powerful voices coming out of the Women’s Earth & Climate Network’s Global Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice last week is that of Fadoua Brour—president and founder of the Moroccan Youth Climate Movement.
Brour founded the Moroccan Youth Climate Movement in 2012 to introduce Moroccan youth to the climate change debate, and to build an understanding of climate change and its impacts, particularly in the MENA—Middle East/North Africa region. Its goals are to raise climate awareness, build capacity in local communities for taking climate action, and provide educational support.
Brour is currently studying for her MS in Environmental Policy and Business Sustainability at Bard College in New York City. Last year, she wrote a fascinating piece for The Bard Center for Environmental Policy about “Biomimicry” as a technological-oriented approach inspired by nature to accelerate progress to a net-zero future.
Biomimicry is a science that studies nature’s models and then emulates their forms, processes and strategies in order to create sustainable solutions to human challenges.
Brour’s article highlights how this novel science has already inspired a generation of scientists to develop technologies that address the excessive release of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. She further argues that Net zero emissions can be achieved if we learn from our ecosystem’s processes and observe how they operate in difficult environments, and I couldn’t agree more.
MOROCCAN YOUTH CLIMATE MOVEMENT
As we just found out, Fadoua Brour founded the Moroccan Youth Climate Movement back in 2012. Moroccan Youth Climate Movement (MYCM) is an independent body that works to create a generation-wide movement to solve the Climate Crisis.
MYCM addresses climate change from a social justice perspective. That is what matters to the young movers and shakers in this activist community. “Education and community resilience.” MYCM addresses the most important foundational messages the world should address when delving into the climate conversation with youth–employment. According to MYCM, climate change is strongly linked to employment opportunities, and high rates of unemployment plague Morocco’s youth.
Climate impacts human interests. That’s why MYCM focuses on real-world impacts on human wellbeing, not just the science of climate change.
The Moroccan Youth Climate Movement is part of the larger 80-member Arab Youth Climate Movement.
AMERICAN UNIVERSITY AWARDED $15M GRANT TO SOLVE FOOD WASTE PROBLEM
Each year wasted food results in the misuse or loss of about 4.2 trillion gallons of irrigation water, 1.8 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer, 780 million pounds of pesticides, and 30 million acres of cropland. Amid mounting climate crises, these are resources we simply can’t afford to waste.
That’s why Sauleh Siddiqui, an environmental science professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at American University was recently awarded a five-year, $15 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to research wasted food. It’s the largest externally funded award in American University history.
“Instead of looking at the food system as a linear system where we plug gaps of waste in a straight line, we’re seeking to transform it into a more circular system where we can reduce, reuse, and valorize all the food that gets wasted,” Siddiqui said.
According to his research, forty percent of food in the US goes uneaten—even while more Americans go hungry. According to Feeding America, an estimated 42 million people, including 13 million children, will experience food insecurity in 2021—an increase of 20 percent since COVID-19 hit.
The five-year project is called the Multiscale Resilient, Equitable, and Circular Innovations with Partnership and Education Synergies (aka RECIPES) for Sustainable Food Systems. And it starts this month. Drawing on the diverse expertise of 40 faculty from 14 institutions—including seven other AU professors—and 45 graduate students, RECIPES aims to reimagine a food system that’s more sustainable, equitable, and resilient.