ne’ma – the National Food Loss and Waste Initiative – in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) and Aldar Education have completed a pilot of the 7 Day – ne’ma Diary challenge for school students monitoring and analysing their own food consumption.
The challenge’s awards ceremony was attended by Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Chairman of ne’ma National Steering Committee, and His Excellency Akio Isomata, Ambassador of Japan to the UAE and His Excellency Ahmed Taleb Al Shamsi, CEO of Emirates Foundation, and ne’ma National Steering Committee Deputy.
ne’ma’s journey started with the unwavering vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, where ne’ma set out with clear targets to cut food waste by 50% by the year 2030, driven by behavioural change and advance the nation towards a sustainable future.
ne’ma Diary is an innovative pilot project that introduces and adapts the best practices of JICE to a UAE context. The pilot saw 32 students from Abu Dhabi’s Yasmina British Academy School, which is an Aldar Academy, actively participating in this initiative. Their mission was to maintain a ne'ma Diary and meticulously document their food waste during their daily meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Chairman of ne’ma National Steering Committee, said: "At a time when one-third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, I am proud of the children’s efforts to understand more about food waste and take positive action. This initiative is a great example of how we can all individually make a difference."
Walking the talk when it comes to climate change is essential if we are to make a real change. In 2023, the UAE’s Year of Sustainability, the UAE Government wants to lead by example. At COP28 hosted in the UAE, we are putting food and waste front and centre. Our ambition is to limit food wastage and the carbon impact of the food served by making COP28 a carbon neutral event. Our Sustainable Catering Policy, which has never been implemented at a COP before, has a core commitment to minimise waste.”
His Excellency Ahmed Taleb Al Shamsi, CEO of Emirates Foundation, and ne’ma National Steering Committee Deputy, said: "This isn't just an initiative; it's a journey of ambition, youth empowerment, and pursuit of sustainable change that began with a vision and led to the crowning of champions against food waste. This creative challenge, designed to educate students about the pressing matter of food waste, has proven highly successful. I extend my gratitude to the JICE team for their invaluable guidance, and to Aldar Education who took centre stage as a key collaborator, aligning corporate values with ne’ma and JICE to pave the way for a sustainable future.
“We firmly believe that knowledge equates to empowerment, and we remain dedicated to empowering the next generation to leave a positive impact on our planet. The youth, the heartbeat of this movement, embarked on a 7-day challenge, capturing their food waste in the ne’ma Diary. The initiative aimed not only to change behaviours but also to create champions—youth who would lead the change, inspiring families, and communities.
“This is just one initiative in ne’ma’s ongoing efforts to foster a culture of sustainability and responsible consumption. Together, we can reduce food waste and create a more sustainable future for all."
Tokuya Kanamori, Managing Director of JICE, said: “Through this project, students gained a deeper understanding of the consequences of food waste and learned practical solutions to address this global challenge, starting from their own homes. We are happy to implement this project with ne’ma, and provide the required knowledge and experience nurtured in Japan to people around the world—especially, exchanging best practices around food waste and representing our national strategies for this issue.
“During the week-long challenge, the students learned about their food waste quantity and its impact on carbon emissions, shared ideas on reducing food loss and waste – leading to positive changes in their behaviour. The initiative not only motivated families to actively participate in reducing food waste at home but also influenced their classmates to consider food a blessing.”
Sahar Cooper, Chief Executive Officer of Aldar Education, said: “Our collaboration with ne'ma aligns with Aldar's broader commitment to sustainability and being corporate champions in addressing societal and environmental challenges.
“At Aldar Education, we take a holistic approach to education, and this pilot initiative represents another step towards ingraining sustainability in our students' daily lives. The ne'ma Diary empowered our students to understand food waste's implications and helped us foster a culture of accountability and mindfulness further. We see participating in such programmes as seeds planted today, nurturing tomorrow's leaders equipped with the consciousness and determination to create a more sustainable world—one plate, one mindful choice, at a time."
The venture will be showcased at COP28, adding a global dimension to local efforts in food waste management. For more information about ne’ma, visit: www.nema.ae.