Dubai-UAE: The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) has kickstarted the Dynamics of Circularity Series, a periodic stakeholder assembly aimed at sharing knowledge, building capacities, and exploring opportunities to implement circular economy practices in priority sectors.
As part of the series, the Ministry organized a workshop dedicated to the F&B sector in partnership with UAE Food & Beverage Business Group (FBMG), an industry association, at the headquarters of Dubai Chambers. The event aimed to develop a shared understanding of the circular economy concept in relation to the F&B industry, discuss ongoing and potential initiatives and projects in this space, and review the challenges and requirements pertaining to the sector’s transition to a circular economy.
The workshop convened 120 stakeholders from the full spectrum of the F&B industry, including manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and distributors, in addition to members of the UAE Circular Economy Council and representatives of relevant federal and local government entities, research institutions, and academia.
Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “Circular economy is gaining momentum as the world recognizes that the current linear economy, where products are made, used, and discarded, is inefficient and unsustainable. Its economic, environmental, and social benefits are clear – from optimizing resource use and reducing or even eliminating waste and pollution to enhancing business sustainability, creating new jobs, and improving public health. Circular economy is a vital part of our efforts to decarbonize our industries, accelerating our drive to reach net zero by 2050.”
She added: “The adoption of circular economy principles in the F&B sector supports not only the UAE Circular Economy Policy but also several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the objectives of our National Food Loss and Waste Initiative (Ne’ma).”
During the workshop, Saleh Lootah, Chairman of FBMG, launched the UAE Agritech Report 2021, which identifies local drivers of the agritech revolution that leverages the latest technologies to make farming more sustainable. Meanwhile, the Secretary General of FBMG, spoke about the Circular Economy Training Program for School Students, developed by the Group in collaboration with Lootah Biofuels. The initiative aims to educate young people about circular economy and sustainability, and motivate them to put the lessons learnt into practice in their daily lives.
Following that, several best practices were presented by members of the FBMG, on their contribution towards the journey of circular economy.
The second segment of the day was a panel discussion under the theme ‘How circular economy can make local companies more competitive’, moderated by Kirstin Morrison, Senior Green Growth Analyst at the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). The session brought together representatives of the government, local and multinational food manufacturers, and retailers to explore challenges facing F&B companies in the UAE and ways of tackling them. The discussion provided attendees with practical information about applying the principles of circular economy to the F&B sector, and improved their understanding of the actions they should take to support the transition towards more circular food systems.
The final item on the agenda was an interactive dialogue with a focus on four of the 22 policies approved at the latest meeting of the UAE Circular Economy Council that are relevant to the F&B sector. Across four breakout sessions, each dedicated to one policy and led by stakeholders from the private sector, the participants defined the scope and elements of the policies and proposed new policies to address potential gaps. Attendees, including representatives of relevant federal government authorities, also identified future actions and collaboration prospects to mainstream circularity in the industry.
In 2021, the Cabinet approved the UAE Circular Economy Policy 2021-2031 that establishes a framework for achieving sustainable management and effective use of natural resources in the country through the adoption of regenerative consumption and production methods. Following the launch of the policy, the UAE Circular Economy Council was formed. The Council is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the policy through following up on the execution of sectoral initiatives, defining key performance indicators for the progress made, and aligning federal and local government strategies with the policy requirements.