UNEP names Leyla Fathallah as West Asia Food Waste Advocate

Beirut/Dubai, 21 March 2023 The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has appointed renowned Lebanese Chef Leyla Fathallah as its new advocate on food waste in the West Asia region, in an event hosted by Hilton Conrad Dubai.

As the world is trying to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 on halving global food waste per capita at the retail and consumer levels by 2030 Chef Leylas appointment aims to call attention to the need to the fight against the problem of food waste in a region which relies on food imports and where evidence shows wastage of large quantities of food.

Chef Leyla will be supporting UNEP West Asias campaigns on food waste through her social media accounts, recording public service announcements and carrying out speaking engagements and personal appearances at high profile events.

We are looking forward to working with Chef Leyla to inspire and motivate individuals and the hospitality sector across the West Asia Region to take action to reduce food waste, said Sami Dimassi, UNEP Representative and Regional Director for West Asia. Her appointment is expected to trigger behavioral change on an issue that not only impacts the availability of food intended for human consumption, but also has ramifications for the environment, natural resources and the economy.

Based in Dubai, Chef Leyla is an influencer on social media and TV and is a staple on the Middle Eastern food scene. She was also recognized by the Facebook #SheCreates platform as one the most influential women of 2021-2022 and as one of the leading women in the media industry throughout the Middle East.

Since 2021, she has supported the Recipe of Change campaign focused on the topic of food waste. She has contributed to awareness raising campaigns, participated in talk shows and shared zero waste recipe ideas and tips on her social media platforms.

I believe that reducing food waste is key to reducing hunger. Small steps can make a big difference and awareness starts from the moment we plan our meals and buy the needed ingredients to the way we consume them, said Chef Leyla.

With its rapidly growing population and the associated rise in food expenditures, the region can no longer afford to ignore the prevailing high levels of food waste. Little can be achieved if the magnitude and causes of food waste are not identified and addressed through appropriate and adequate policies, strategies and programmes.

UNEPs State of Food Waste in West Asia (2021) report estimates that food waste increases in the region during religious and social festivities due to the preparation of meals that often far exceed families needs, which means leftovers are thrown away.

Reducing food waste in the region can only be achieved with the population in the region adopting good behaviors, and sustainable lifestyles.

In my role as UNEP advocate on food waste for West Asia, I will through my work encourage people to shop wisely, be innovative in using their ingredients to the fullest possible, and thus reduce waste, save resources and fight hunger, Chef Leyla said.

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