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31 May, 2013

“Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint”: June 5 World Environment Day Message

Travel Impact Newswire Special Report

The following is the full text of Special Message by the U.N. Secretary-General Message Mr Ban Ki-Moon On World Environment Day

We live in a world of plenty, where food production outstrips demand, yet 870 million people are undernourished and childhood stunting is a silent pandemic. To create the future we want, we must correct this inequity. We must ensure access to adequate nutrition for all, double the productivity of smallholder farmers who grow the bulk of food in the developing world, and make food systems sustainable in the face of environmental and economic shocks. This is the vision of my Zero Hunger Challenge, launched last year at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

One way to narrow the hunger gap and improve the well-being of the most vulnerable is to address the massive loss and waste inherent in today’s food systems. Currently at least one third of all food produced fails to make it from farm to table. This is foremost an affront to the hungry, but it also represents a massive environmental cost in terms of energy, land and water.

In developing countries, pests, inadequate storage facilities and inefficient supply chains are major contributors to food loss. Those who grow for export are also often at the mercy of over-stringent expectations of buyers who place a premium on cosmetic perfection. In developed nations, food thrown away by households and the retail and catering industries rots in landfills, releasing significant quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Food loss and waste is something we can all address. That is why the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization and public and private sector partners have launched the “Think.Eat.Save: Reduce Your Foodprint” campaign to raise global awareness and showcase solutions relevant to developed and developing countries alike.

Infrastructure and technology can reduce the amount of food that perishes after it is harvested and before it reaches the market. Developing country governments can work to improve essential infrastructure and maximize trade opportunities with neighbours; developed nations can support fair trade and rationalize sell-by dates and other labelling systems; businesses can revise their criteria for rejecting produce; and consumers can minimize waste by buying only what they need and re-using left-over food.

On this World Environment Day, I urge all actors in the global food chain to take responsibility for environmentally sustainable and socially equitable food systems. The current global population of seven billion is expected to grow to nine billion by 2050. But the number of hungry people need not increase. By reducing food waste, we can save money and resources, minimize environmental impacts and, most importantly, move towards a world where everyone has enough to eat.

Message of the UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner

Every year on June 5th, people across the planet celebrate the United Nations World Environment Day. It is a day for action where hundreds of thousands of activities take place in virtually every country in the world to improve the environment now and for the future.

This year’s theme focuses on food waste and food loss. Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint is the new campaign that UNEP and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN, in conjunction with a rapidly growing list of partners from the public and private sector, launched earlier this year. It draws attention both to the issue and the absurdity that high volumes of perfectly edible produce are never making it from the farm to the fork.

Indeed, at least a third of everything we grow on this planet is lost between the field and the consumer. It is an ethical, economic and environmental issue given the enormous waste of energy, water, fertilizers and other inputs as a result of food that is produced but never eaten.

Each one of us can do something about this and that’s why, through the “Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint” campaign, we invite people across the world to join us in an effort to both raise awareness and to take practical actions whether in your home, whether on your farm, whether in the supermarket, in a canteen, in a hotel or anywhere else where food is prepared and consumed.

This year’s global host for WED 2013 is Mongolia, one of the fastest growing economies in the world and one that is aiming for a transition to a green economy and a green civilization. It is not a big waster or loser of food, but the traditional and nomadic life of many of its people does have some ancient answers to the modern-day challenge of food waste.

The Mongol general Chinggis Khan and his troops utilized a traditional food called borts to gallop across Asia without depending on elaborate supply chains. Borts is basically concentrated beef equal to the protein of an entire cow but condensed and ground down to the size of a human fist. This remarkable method of food preservation, without refrigeration, meant a meal equivalent to several steaks when the protein was shaved into hot water to make soup.

And the Mongolians have other secrets to share that may contribute to preserving and thus not wasting food — the aaruul, for instance, is a form of dried curds that can last as a perfectly healthy dish or snack for years, again without refrigeration.

UNEP has, in advance of WED 2013, been compiling similar examples of traditional and indigenous knowledge from familiar techniques such as pickling or salting fish to the smoking of meat, the drying of fruit and other techniques employed by the Inuits to preserve seabirds which are served later at feasts and weddings.

Mongolia is also aiming to green not only its mining sector but its energy and agricultural systems while developing its landscapes and national parks — home to such rare and iconic species as the przewalskii horse — for eco-tourism.

Join us on June 5th in Mongolia or wherever you are in the world and organize an event. It can be in your home, your school, your company and your community. Share what you are up to including photographs via the dedicated website — www.unep.org/wed

And above all, Think Eat Save. Reduce Your Foodprint.