Augmenting the Role of Innovation for Sustainable Agri-food Systems

food waste
Food Science

Fayez Aladamawi

Food & Sustainability Mentor at European Institute of Innovation for Sustainability

Share it:


It is estimated that the global population’s growth is expected to reach near 10 billion by 2050 (1), and to feed this growing population, global food production needs to double (2). This massive demand for food must be met against the backdrop of climate change, depleting natural resources, geo-political conflicts, global food and energy crisis, and supply chain disruptions. Such challenges necessitated new ways of thinking about producing and consuming food. Trends like plant-based food, cultured meat, vertical farming, local food production, food circularity, food sharing, and food waste reduction technologies are picking up steam and have come a long way in addressing food insecurity and combating the food system’s impact on climate change, as it is estimated that more than 1/3 of global GHG emissions are food system related (3). As promising as these innovations are, they cannot, in silos, solve the food crisis and the food-induced climate change problem. More comprehensive frameworks are needed to amplify innovation’s impact in creating sustainable food systems. 

The EIIS Food & Sustainability Approach   

In 2021, the European Institute of Innovation for Sustainability (EIIS) launched its first Food & Sustainability Certificate Program edition. This interdisciplinary and solution-based program covers all aspects of the food system. It aims to answer the intricate question of how we can feed 10 billion people by 2050 without harming the environment. To respond to this question, participants in this program are called upon to be creative in coming up with solutions from the innovation, education, and policy angles-covering the three pillars of Food Loss & Waste, Sustainable Agriculture, and Nutritional Challenges (4).

  • Innovation: sheds light on low and high-tech innovative solutions that work to alleviate challenges in the three pillars.
  • Education: addresses awareness programs to build public awareness on food system issues and how we can contribute to reducing food system sustainability issues.
  • Policy: talks about policy instruments governments can implement to drive and incentivize interventions that promote constructive practices in the food system and penalize those with a negative impact on it.    

The above solution areas can only go so far in addressing food system challenges in their domain but put in conjunction, they can produce a more significant impact. Let’s take Food Waste as a food system issue, for example, and examine how the innovation, education, and policy mix can come into play in solving this problem.

Too Good To Go: A Movement Against Food Waste   

 In 2016 the French government introduced a law that bans supermarkets from disposing of unsold food items in trash bins and donating them to charities instead, in an ambitious effort to half the country’s food waste by 2025 (5). This law expanded further to target catering and food distribution channels, which required the food chain in France to find ways to deal with excess food and fight food waste. Too Good To Go, a leading Danish-based technology startup on a mission to combat food waste, came as a solution that enables food outlets to sell their unsold food at reduced prices to interested buyers via a convenient application, thus creating a win-win solution for both food outlets who can commercialize on their unsold food as well for consumers who can save on food purchases while reducing food waste and its environmental impact (Innovation)

Too Good To Go also plays a vital role in promoting public awareness of food waste impact and how to reduce it. For example, also in France in January 2020 it launched the “le Pacte sur les Dates de Consommation” which translates into the Pact for Expiration Dates, a movement by which To Good To Go aims at changing the confusing perception of expiry dates from “Use by” to “Best by” and “Sell by” dates; so that food can be safely consumed longer than is advertised initially on certain food items (Education) (6) . According to the European Commission, expiry dates are responsible for 20% of food waste in households (5); thus, changing the public perception of expiry dates can play an essential role in reducing food waste. As a result, 38 key food chain players, including Nestle and Danone, have joined the pact to change the expiry date to “Best by” on their products where possible (7). In addition, in 2021, Too Good To Go also launched the My School Against Food Waste initiative for elementary schools by providing tools and materials to teachers and professionals to familiarize students with food waste issues and reduction methods, thus promoting food waste awareness among children at a very young age (8).

 Too Good To Go’s efforts in championing food waste reduction efforts do not stop at innovation and education but go far to reach policy-making influence. In 2021, the tech startup launched its My City Against Food Waste charter also in France to encourage municipalities and local officials to commit to food waste reduction actions, such as “creating zero-waste measurements at school canteens, encouraging retailers collaboration to provide solutions for food waste, support local food waste projects, and organize an annual event for food waste awareness.” This campaign resulted in 41 cities in France signing the charter and actively working towards its implementation (9). Moreover, Too Good To Go went further in its political influence in Europe to provide input on the European Commission’s Inception Impact Assessment, which aims to establish legally binding targets and legislative frameworks to reduce the EU’s food waste to 50% by 2030 (10).


Too Good To Go sets a brilliant example of how a multifaceted approach that builds on the strengths of multiple tools can amplify solutions for food system challenges. Thus, it is incumbent on any food system innovation initiative to consider wider paths at the design level to ensure more impactful outcomes.  



1- How to Sustainably Feed 10 Billion People by 2050, in 21 Charts: 

2- Food Production Must Double by 2050 to Meet Demand from World’s Growing Population, Innovative Strategies Needed to Combat Hunger, Experts Tell Second Committee:

3- Food systems account for more than one third of global greenhouse gas emissions: 

4- EIIS Food & Sustainability Program: 

5- France’s law for fighting food waste :,its%20destruction%20and%20facilitating%20donation.

6- Too Good to Go mobilizes France against expiry dates: 

7- De Danone à Nestlé, Too Good To Go mobilise pour la révision des dates de consummation:  De Danone à Nestlé, Too Good To Go mobilise pour la révision des dates de consommation / Qualité – Process Alimentaire 

8- Mon École Anti Gaspi:

9- My Waste-Free City: 

10- Feedback from Too Good To Go:  


We join forces with N.G.O.s, Universities, and other organizations globally to fulfill our common mission on sustainability and human welfare.