During the holy month of Ramadan, ne’ma - the National Food Loss and Waste Initiative, in collaboration with MBRGI’s UAE Food Bank, helped to save one million meals from going to waste, redistributing them within the UAE. The achievement came through coordination and cooperation with several partners in the UAE’s public and private sectors, highlighting the values of philanthropy, giving, and social responsibility in the holy month. The initiative aimed to reduce food waste in accordance with ne’ma’s goals and its Food Rescue programme during Ramadan.   

At the end of last February, ne’ma signed an MoU with the UAE Food Bank to launch joint initiatives to achieve the UAE’s food waste reduction goals through cooperation of all stakeholders within the Food Rescue Working Group, to make a significant impact toward reducing food loss and waste and achieving sustainable circular economy.

Later on, both parties signed a Sponsorship Agreement whereby ne’ma supported the UAE Food Bank’s initiative to rescue one million meals of surplus food, in line with their similar food waste reduction activations during Ramadan. The agreement reflected both parties’ commitment to the national Food Rescue programme launched by ne’ma, which necessitates nationwide involvement, reiterating both parties’ pledge to honour the directives of the UAE’s government and overall strategy in halving food loss and waste by 2030.

His Excellency Ahmed Taleb Al Shamsi, CEO of the Emirates Foundation, and ne’ma National Steering Committee Deputy, said: “We are proud to sponsor this key initiative of One Million Surplus Meals  during the holy month of Ramadan as a national partnership and an enabler of the national goal of halving food loss and waste by 2030. These collaborative efforts we have witnessed during the holy month of Ramadan, stand as a testament to the genuine embodiment of ne’ma’s vision, in engaging major stakeholders nationwide, toward reducing food loss and waste. We are glad to have brought together various governmental entities and privately operating stakeholders, along with hospitality and catering sectors to make food waste reduction a consistent and inclusive national effort to achieve the ultimate elimination of food waste, self-reliance, and sustainable circular economy.”

“We are also delighted by our continuous cooperation with the UAE Food Bank, which is the key driver to realize these objectives as per the agreed plan and to make a positive impact towards rescuing food and recycling food waste.”

Ramadan’s initiative has been carried out in coordination with several stakeholders including food companies, charities, hotels, Iftar tents, and delivery operators. This integrated system identified contributing entities and surplus food and set the sites and times for transporting food and meals to rescue food and deliver it in the best quality to those in need and minimise waste through integrated management of food surplus across the collection and distribution phases.  

Following last February’s MoU signing ceremony between ne’ma and UAE Food Bank,  both parties realised UAE’s goals in terms of food waste by engaging all stakeholders within the Food Waste Working Group and driving a positive impact towards food loss and waste to achieve a sustainable circular economy.

Manal bin Yaarou, Head of Operating and Managing Emirates Food Bank Committee, said: “It was a pleasure to work together this year with ne’ma - the National Food Loss and Waste initiative, to achieve our joint objective in  reducing food waste, as we put our extensive experience to use with the other partners within the overarching national goal that ne’ma seeks to achieve. We are proud of what has been achieved by recycling and diverting about than 900 tonnes of food from landfill during the holy month of Ramadan, resulting in more than 1.35millio meals (surplus) being saved and provided to those in need in the country. In addition to segregating and recycling around 367 tonnes of food unfit for human consumption in the event of damage from the source , it led to converting it into the equivalent of 73 tonnes of oils and organic fertilizer, with the aim of preserving the environment and sustainability, as local farms in the country benefit from it.

Through this initiative, we managed to prevent more than 2,300 tonnes of carbon emissions equivalent to planting 96,112 trees, contributing to combating the ever-discerning climate change.”

“We were also glad to work with other stakeholders in the hospitality and hotel sectors as we provided them with comprehensive technical solutions, training and awareness on effective ways to recycle food waste, segregation and recycling requirements, and how to prepare daily reporting on the environmental footprint and community economy using an application run by Reloop.”

The Sponsorship Agreement between the two parties provided that this initiative shall be an opportunity for collecting data, quantitative analysis, and outputs to help complete the national food loss and waste baseline, and also an opportunity to spread nema’s messages to raise community awareness and encourage positive, mindful, and responsible behaviours in dealing with food.  

ne’ma was established in February last year, following a call to action from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to address the negative trends of wasting food and its subsequent detrimental effects. The initiative of ne’ma focused on urging everyone to return to the UAE’s time-honored values and traditions of preserving the blessing of food. The initiative aims to spearhead and coordinate national efforts at all levels to reduce food loss and waste by 50 per cent by 2030; a goal that aligns with the national food security strategy and the UN’s SDG 12.3, ahead of the UAE hosting COP28 later this year.