The National Conference on Sustainable Food Consumption and Production

The National conference on Sustainable Food Consumption and Production was held on the 22nd of October, 2018 at the Mount Lavinia Hotel.  It was organized by Humane Society International in collaboration with SLYCAN Trust, Meatless Monday Sri Lanka and Mount Lavinia Hotel. Hoteliers, restaurateurs, food producers and various other stakeholders were invited to participate in the conference which consisted of presentations and panel discussions by experts.

Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Wildlife. Dr. Sarath Yalegama delivered the key-note speech at the event, and provided an overview on what sustainable development is, and how Sri Lanka is taking actions on the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

“Food loss has become a global problem because about one third of the food produced every year in the world for human consumption is wasted. Approximately 1.3 billion tonnes gets lost or wasted. If we do not engage in responsible consumption this will lead to many problems in the near future,” said Dr. Yalegama.

(Dr. Yalegama delivering the key-note speech)

Dr. Sunimal Jayathunga speaking at the event highlighted the impacts of climate change due to increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere, and why it is important to reduce meat consumption. He pointed out that the livestock industry is one of the main contributors to climate change, and that reduction of meat consumption will bring down the level of GHG emissions released to the atmosphere through our consumption pattern.

“The Food and Agriculture Organisation through their research has identified the livestock sector as a major stressor on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is one of the largest sources of GHG emissions and one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity. It is also estimated that livestock (including poultry) accounts for about 14.5 percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

(Dr. Sunimal Jayathunga, speaking at the Conference)

Ms. Achala Samaradiwakara Maddumage, Cofounder of Good Market speaking on supporting sustainable social enterprises to promote sustainable and healthy food production stated that the demand for organic products are increasing and people are more inclined to move towards sustainable farming.

“Organic agriculture, and sustainable food are beneficial in so many aspects because sustainable farming encourages biodiversity, conserve scarce water resources, and build healthy soil through techniques like compositing and planting cover crops,” she added.

(Ms. Achala Maddumage speaking on social enterprises)

Mr. Jayasimha Geethaprabhu Nuggehalli, the Managing Director for HSI India at Humane Society International, also highlighted the need for meat reduction in our food choices, and pointed how meat reduction not only is sustainable and healthy, but also prevents impacts on the environment.

 “Animal agriculture is one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems because worldwide we use more land to raise and feed farm animals than for any other single purpose. More than 60 percent of the barley and corn produced globally are fed to farm animals.”

(Mr. Jayasimha Geethaprabhu Nuggehalli, speaking at the conference)

Mr.Sena Peiris, the Former Director of National Cleaner Production Center of Sri Lanka; Dr. Mihiri Vanniarachchy, Senior Lecturer from the Department of Food Science and Technology from the University of Sri Jayawadenapura; Eng. Samantha Kumarasena, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Cleaner Production Center of Sri Lanka and Mr. Namiz Musafer of SWITCH-Asia were resource persons at the Conference.

Following the technical sessions and discussions, the participants attended a cookery demonstration focusing on healthy food consumption and production by world renowned chef Dr. Publis Silva, which brought the National Conference on Sustainable Food Consumption and Production, to a successful end.