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UNA Harrogate: what happened when we explored SDGs 2, 12 & 13 (food waste)

We almost always run UNA Harrogate in the form of an action learning set focussed on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  On 6 January we welcomed Michelle Marks to our "hot seat" to help her focus her business on reducing food waste.  This is her post-event response:

UNA Foodwaste Challenge – Post Event Write Up

Michelle Marks’ ‘Back Story’

When I set up Coral Mountain Sustainability Consultancy, three and a half years ago, the area of environmental impact I wanted to focus on wasn’t yet clear to me.

In the interim, I have seen first-hand how implementing a Sustainability Programme brings measurable benefits to companies, in terms of reduced waste costs, improved procurement leading to environmental impact avoidance and creating a sense of purpose among the employees. The key benefits of the programme come from embedding new behaviours, repeated until they become the new norm after I have left the site.

Over time, I came up against a challenge, which I needed to overcome. I was spreading my time too thinly, lacking clarity about my prospects and pipeline.

I recently decided to concentration on the issue of food for two reasons;

1. I am passionate about reducing food waste which equates to a third of all food production and 8-10% of global emissions, as well as reducing other food impacts.

2. My degree was in the food and leisure sector, so I have relevant experience.

UNA Harrogate and the SDGs

I was invited to sit in The Hot-Seat at UNA Harrogate’s January meeting, which focusses on challenges aligned with the SDGs.

My challenge was reaching my target market and relates to SDG12, Target 12.3, which is;

“By 2030 halve the per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level and reduce food losses along the production and supply chain, including post-harvest losses.”

The meeting runs as an Action Learning Set, facilitated by the group’s chairman, Clive Wilson. It was well attended by a large number of motivated individuals, several from Zero Carbon Harrogate, including the ZCH Food Group.

As a result of this process I committed to one main action and three sub-actions; the main action being to focus my efforts on the food manufacturing and food service activities within the food system, with the sub actions relating to implementing a plan.

Additionally, I made several worthwhile new contacts and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I would highly recommend people to attend as the challenges are always thought-provoking and everyone learns something new.

If you have a particular SDG related challenge, you could gain a lot by offering to sit in the Hot-Seat.