If food waste was a country, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.
My country actually ranks in the top 10 emitters, yet the Indonesian government continues to backtrack on their goals for climate change mitigation.
Millions of hectares of our forests in Indonesia have already been burned and cleared for food production; and the government has plans to transform even more land for new ‘food estates’ – which are damaging for people and the environment.
And, we really need to rethink how we both consume and produce food.
This is why I’m taking part in the Youth Power Hacks.
Over the past few decades, climate change has become a major concern for the world – but it has never been taken as seriously as it should be.
I still remember the very first time I became aware of environmental issues. I was much younger than I am now. I recall that it was a particularly hot day in our hometown, and my mother told me that back when she was a kid – it never used to be that hot.
I asked why that was the case, and my mother simply answered that it was because there were a lot more trees when she was growing up, which provided shade, and since then – many of them had been cut down.
The food estate approach threatens even more trees – turning Indonesia’s forests into exploited land. Past experiences with similar programs show that these large-scale agricultural plantations won’t actually secure domestic food supplies, but will cause a huge amount of environmental and social problems – from logging, to displacing communities. I don’t believe that food estates will maximise land use and produce high yields.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging to combat climate change in Indonesia, especially in terms of our food systems. Nonetheless, I strongly believe that food security can be achieved by improving farmers’ productivity, and without the need to clear new land. There are alternative solutions, for example, enhancing the food distribution system, diversifying food systems, and integrating food systems with the eco-socio-economic system.
It is estimated that 1/3 of all food produced in the world is wasted, contributing to roughly 8% of global emissions. My Youth Power Hacks team have been inspired by these statistics, and want to make a change in Indonesia. Our idea is to look at climate change at a local level; and collect ugly, unwanted, and hard-to-sell food into and upcycle them into valuable products – collaborating with households who have been affected financially by the pandemic.
Indonesia’s food waste problem is not only a food systems problem, but also a climate change problem – and my Indonesia Hack team and I are excited to make change in this space.
Over the past few months, the Youth Power Panel has been working with Restless Development, Project Everyone, and Unilever to deliver the Youth Power Hacks: six online hackathons held in six countries, bringing together hundreds of young people to hack solutions to help get the Global Goals delivered.