By: Anna Lungley, Chief Sustainability Officer, dentsu international.  

Have you ever felt guilty scraping a plate into a bin, and thinking ‘what a waste?’ Even worse, the nagging guilt of cleaning out items from the fridge or cupboard that are unopened and way past their sell-by date. 

Awareness of food waste is increasing, but it is now coming into sharp focus as people recognise the impact of human behaviour on climate and the environment.  It is an enormous challenge, and the need for us all to take action, and collectively shift our behaviour lies at the heart of tackling it.  

The amount of food that we waste is a significant factor in biodiversity loss and responsible for an estimated 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with one third of all food produced ending up in landfill sites.  

It is a tragedy that extends well beyond mealtimes, impacting the natural world that we live in and compounding the challenge of working to limit the effects of climate change. And with our everyday behaviour fundamental to reducing food waste, the advertising sector has an opportunity and responsibility to be at the front and centre of efforts to change that. That’s why we’ve made it the focus of our Rise Up Challenge this year. 

The challenge, part of dentsu’s flagship The Code schools and early careers programme, brings together dentsu agencies around the world and a group of its major food clients – including Co-Op, Mondelez– to upskill 10,000 young people in digital media and creative communications and help them showcase their best campaign ideas to inspire consumers to drastically reduce their food waste.  The Code is one of the global initiatives that form part of our social impact strategy, connecting our goals of creating a more sustainable world, a fair and open society and realising the potential of digital technologies for good.   

Last year it was one of the few free – to – access resources for students and schools when many face-to-face business skills for schools programmes had to stop due to lockdown.  

This year we’re back with a bang. In a pivotal year for climate awareness and action, with COP26 and the UN Biodiversity Summit on the horizon, it’s the first time that the Rise Up Challenge has been run with one global theme, and builds on curriculum-based learning developed by our in house teams for young people, in close collaboration with our partners.  

The Rise Up Challenge is a rallying cry to young people who want to help make food consumption more sustainable. And it's an innovation challenge for our 45,000-employees and clients to solve. We want the best ideas from positive activists who want to achieve real change in our world and may be future advertising talent in the making. Our aim is to involve at least 10,000 young people this year. 

The Rise Up Challenge signals dentsu’s ambition to inspire people everywhere to a new way of living. We want to mobilise consumers, clients and our teams to create a better world in the face of colossal challenges, and reduce food waste to address climate change and improve biodiversity.

There will never be a more important time to seek inspiration from a diverse pool of young people and connect those hearts and minds to our food-producing clients. So that’s our call to action - ‘Rise Up’ and make a difference. 

Find out more about the Rise Up Challenge and the Code here