Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Major Nations, Vatican Announce “Rome Declaration” to Use Montreal Protocol and Sustainable Refrigeration to Reduce Food Loss and Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Goal to Reduce Hunger, Increase Farm Incomes, Reduce Methane Emissions; One-Third of Food Now Wasted Globally with Lack of Refrigeration Major Cause

Rome, Italy – More than 50 nations, and their environment ministers and heads of delegations of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol agreed today to a declaration to promote innovation of energy efficient solutions and technologies in the development of so-called “cold chains”, cooling and refrigeration, to reduce food loss and waste, and curb resulting powerful greenhouse gas methane and HFC emissions.

Cold chains, including production, storage, and distribution activities, preserve, extend, and ensures the shelf-life of products, keeping food fresh. The agricultural cold chain represents nearly 30% of global HFC usage, by ways of comparison, air conditioning in vehicles uses nearly 25%, room air conditioning uses is 35%.

The lack of adequate cold chains is responsible for about 9% of lost production of perishable foods in developed countries and 23% in developing countries, contributing to financial losses of almost $1 trillion annually and 4.4 Billion tons of CO2e per year to climate emissions. According to one leading study, expansion of cold chains in developing countries could cut GHG emissions from food waste in half.

The list of signatories includes the European Union, the United States, several dozen developing nations, along with many others.

The declaration makes note of the key role these cold chains play in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to, ending hunger and poverty, food security, improved nutrition, climate action, sustainable agriculture and fisheries, health and well-being. The Rome Declaration on the contribution of the Montreal Protocol to a sustainable cold chain to reduce food losses, states: 

We, the ministers and heads of delegation of the following parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, European Union, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia (Republic of the), Germany, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Libya, Luxembourg, Maldives, Micronesia (Federated States of), Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Senegal, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Uganda, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam,

Considering the discussions at the round table opening the high-level segment of the Thirty‑First Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which has a prominent role in reducing food losses,

Recalling that about one-third of all food produced globally for human consumption is either lost or wasted, which has severe impacts on farmers’ incomes and precious resources such as land, water and energy and generates greenhouse gases,

Reaffirming the cooperation among parties in implementing the Montreal Protocol and recognizing that the Montreal Protocol and its Kigali Amendment have raised awareness of the need to develop sustainable and efficient solutions in the refrigeration and air-conditioning sector to meet future cooling demand, including cold-chain initiatives for food preservation,

Aware of the key role of the cold chain in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals related to, inter alia, ending hunger and poverty, food security, improved nutrition, climate action, sustainable agriculture and fisheries, health and well-being,

1.  Stress the importance of pursuing national action and international cooperation to promote the development of the cold chain, including by using sustainable and environmentally friendly refrigeration to reduce food loss;

2.  Underscore the multiple benefits of promoting the exchange of information on the contribution of the cold chain to the Sustainable Development Goals and encourage the ongoing work under the Montreal Protocol to this end;

3.  Call for strengthening cooperation and coordination between Governments, the institutions of the Montreal Protocol, the specialized agencies of the United Nations, existing private and public initiatives and all relevant stakeholders to exchange knowledge and promote innovation of energy-efficient solutions and technologies that reduce the use of substances controlled by the Montreal Protocol in the development of the cold chain, thereby contributing to the reduction of food loss and waste.

Rome, 8 November 2019

The declaration was adopted at the 31st Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol (MOP), which convened in Rome 4-8 November and took place at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. A high-level roundtable discussion on the topic was convened at the MOP where the declaration was launched.  

“From 2010 to 2016, food loss and waste contributed to roughly 8 to 10% of total anthropogenic emissions. With a growing population and more climate stress, the world can’t afford to waste food. Yet that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.  We’re losing calories needed for a healthy population, and adding super climate pollutants in the form of methane to further warm the world,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable development. “The Montreal Protocol can reduce this waste by helping build super-efficient cold chains to keep food fresh from farm to table, with the potential to double farmer incomes” he added.

The Rome Declaration on the contribution of the Montreal Protocol to a sustainable cold chain to reduce food losses is available here.

UNEP Briefing note on Sustainable Cold Chain and Food Loss Reduction is available here