Think·Eat·Save – that is the theme of this year’s World Environment Day (June 5). Did you know that more than a billion tons of food is being wasted every year? While nearly 870 million people go to bed hungry every night and at least an equal number of adults around the world are overweight, food is lost and wasted in unacceptable amounts. Waste seems to be the norm in many of our consumer societies: electronic waste, chemical waste, waste water, and food waste.
Commemorating World Environment Day is not just the right thing to do, it also is an invitation to re-examine our own patterns of consumption and ways of addressing the challenge of food security for all in the world today. Here are some suggestions:
1) Explore the website of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in particular the page about Think·Eat·Save (available in other languages besides English/French/Spanish). This elaborate site addresses food waste and sustainable consumption.
2) Read the message of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for World Environment Day 2013.
3) Learn about the Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge, launched in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) during the World Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012. This campaign has five objectives, articulated by the Secretary General as follows:
First, make sure that everyone in our world has access to enough nutritious food all year long. They should be able to buy it, grow it, or get it through a safety net.
Second, end childhood stunting. It affects almost 200 million children today, with a profoundly negative impact on future generations. Proper nutrition between the beginning of pregnancy and a child’s second birthday is the foundation for an entire life.
Third, build sustainable food systems. Whether our focus is business, the environment, farming or health, we must agree on how all can be nourished in a way that also nurtures our planet.
Fourth, double smallholder farmers’ productivity and income while creating decent employment. These farmers, especially women, produce most of the world’s food. Improvements in their wellbeing create employment, cut poverty, increase the food supply, and stabilize prices for everyone.
Fifth, prevent food from being lost or wasted. As much as one third of all food gets lost between harvesting and consumption. That is just too much. … We must also produce and consume food responsibly, mindful of the environment and of our long-term health.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on June 21, 2012, at the launch of the Zero Hunger Challenge