Course (certified) on Tech Diplomacy

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01/01/2021 to 31/12/2021


Food waste is a persistent wicked problem in the global agenda linked to both ethical and environmental issues. Around one-third of all food produced globally is lost or wasted across the food system (FAO, 2011), from farm to fork, much of it avoidable. This poses an ethical and moral dilemma, as access to nutritious and quality food is still not available for many vulnerable population groups. On the other hand, wasting this food, with all the embedded resources required to produce it (C02, water, labor, land-use, etc.) is deeply unrespectful to nature and to the workers that had grown that food.

Food loss (“pérdida alimentaria”) and food waste (“desperdicio alimentario”) are relevant topics in the 2030 Agenda with a specific target (12.3) and indicator (12.3.1) directly tackling them. But they are also issues strongly interlinked to SDG#2 (Zero Hunger), target 2.1., or other SDGs such as SDG#13 (Climate Acton) or SDG#6 (Water and Sanitation).

Target 12.3. By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

Indicator 12.3.1 (a) Food loss index and (b) food waste index

Target 2.1 By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.

At the Spanish level, the Ministry of Agriculture is leading a proposal for new legislation on Food Waste. The draft “Anteproyecto de Ley de Prevención de las Pérdidas y el Desperdicio Alimentario” is already available and receiving feedback from different stakeholders before its final approval. It should be noted that other EU countries, such as Italy and France, have already passed similar legislation which could inspire the Spanish norm.

Universities and university canteens are directly concerned with those food waste issues. As educational centres (and public administrations), they should be an example of good practices in this matter. But in addition to this, the draft Spanish norm indicates that:

“Los establecimientos de hostelería y otros servicios alimentarios tendrán que ofrecer a sus clientes la posibilidad de que se lleven, sin coste adicional, lo que no han consumido y tendrán que informar de ello de forma visible, preferentemente en la carta o menú. Pare ello, deberán disponer de envases aptos reutilizables.”

“Las instituciones como centros sanitarios y educativos o residencias que ofrezcan catering o servicio de comedor, sea con medios propios o ajenos, deberán contar también con programas de prevención y reducción de las pérdidas y el desperdicio alimentario que cumplan igualmente la jerarquía de prioridades establecida en la ley.”

This means that, if the norm is finally approved, university canteens will have to track the amount of food waste they generate (an indicator that nowadays is not available at UPM canteens) and elaborate a plan for prevention and reduction of food waste based on the priorities marked by the new food waste law:

(1) food loss prevention,

(2) human use (including food donation),

(3) transformation,

(4) animal use,

(5) use as by-product by other industries,

(6) material recovery (compost and biodigest),

(7) energy recovery (biogas generation).

Regarding priorities (1) and (2), we should remark several barriers that currently exist and need to be taken into account:

Food donation has several hindering factors related to food safety issues (seguridad alimentaria), the responsibility on those donations (the good Samaritan act does not apply in most EU countries, including Spain, the donor is responsible for the donation in the same terms as a sale), or the fiscal treatment of those donations (VAT issues), among others.(CONTINUES IN REQUIREMENTS FIELD)

SDG info

Relevant SDGs

SDG12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
SDG2 - Zero Hunger

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Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

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