The winner of WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award 2019 on the theme Sustainable Food was the french lawyer Arash Derambarsh.
He made the French government pass a law prohibiting French supermarkets and restaurants from throwing away usable food. Instead of being discarded, the food is collected by charity organisations or food banks and given to people in need.
Mr Derambarsh, a lawyer and city councillor in the city of Courbevoie, France, became interested in the food waste problem long ago. He created a law proposal to prohibit supermarkets and other food outlets from throwing away edible food, that attracted a great deal of attention in the country.
Once he had collected 210 000 signatures in support of his proposal, the issue was addressed in the French parliament. In February 2016, Derambarsh's legislative proposal was passed. Arash Derambarsh later launched a second petition for Europe, which the French Red Cross, the NGO Action Against Hunger and the United Nations World Food Programme support.
- What Arash Derambarsh has done is a great example of how everybody can make a difference at a higher level. His focus is on changing attitudes and elevating the issue of food waste to a legislative level. The French law puts an end to the enormous waste of resources that a non-circular food supply leads to, making Arash Derambarsh an important leader and role model. says Emma Dalväg, chair of the WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award committee.
Derambarsh prefers to focus on the effect of the law than on his own role in its creation. What really matters, he points out, is that the law benefits people in need.
- It is a great honour for me to receive the WIN WIN Gothenburg Award, but my person does not matter. What is important is the law against food waste that homeless people, people in poverty, and the invisible Middle Class can benefit from. I appeal to the European Union, as well as every country in the world: Adopt a similar law in your countries to finally put an end to this social, environmental and economic nonsense. In France, thanks to this law, over 10 million meals are distributed annually by charities to people in need. This represents a 22% growth in food donations. It is our duty to stop food waste in order to end poverty and fight for our planet, says Arash Derambarsh.
The jury's motivation:
'The global food supply is not only critical to our survival but also leaves a huge footprint on the global environment. Moreover, it is at the centre of one of the most difficult global paradoxes the world is facing – that one-third of the food produced worldwide is lost or thrown away, while many people don't have enough food to eat. The winner of this year's award has not only brought attention to this difficult paradox and fundamental unfairness but has also managed to implement measures that will lead to real change. Arash Derambarsh's ideas, initiative, and persistent work to reduce food waste have resulted in a new French law that prohibits French supermarkets and restaurants from throwing away or destroying food products that cannot be sold. The law forces them to instead collaborate with charity organisations or so-called food banks so that the food instead can benefit those in need. According to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, food waste along the entire supply chain shall be reduced by 50%. The achievement of this goal will require not only a change in attitudes at the consumer level but also system changes, such as the French food waste law. Arash Derambarsh's efforts have inspired people worldwide and helped put the issue of food waste on the global agenda. His work shows that it is possible to make a difference and take concrete steps in a sustainable direction when it comes to wasting food.'