A man gathers a bag of leftover vegetables in Cebu, Philippines. UNEP is using World Environment Day to draw attention to how the 1.3 billion tons of food produce that are not eaten every year affect global food security. Photo by: dbgg1979 / CC BY-NC

The United Nations Environment Program asks as the globe erupts in celebrations and activities to mark World Environment Day on Wednesday.

Food loss and waste is something we can all address, urged U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement, which is why, he said, the UNEP, the Food and Agricultural Organization and their public and private sector partners kicked off the “Think.Eat.Save: Reduce Your Foodprint” campaign on June 7.

The goal: To lift global awareness on the environmental impact of food choices and to help curb annual food wastes of up to 1.3 billion tons on World Environment Day.

“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 […] 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,” stressed Ban.

FAO estimates that one in every seven people in the world go to bed hungry and over 20,000 children under the age of five die daily from hunger.

Every year on June 7, the UNEP leads World Environment Day celebrations with the host country, which for 2013 is fast-growing Mongolia.

Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Mongolian President and recipient of the 2012 UNEP Champion of the Earth Award, expressed pleasure at what he called the honor given to the country.

“It is indeed timely [and] sobering to draw the global public attention to food security, supply and conservation […] The reasons cannot be more compelling for us to start immediate and concrete actions to save our planet and our future,” he said in a message.

Mongolia has run a series of activities to mark the event — from a Green Development National Forum to the opening of the country’s first wind farm, to marathons and flashmobs.

Not to be outdone, other commemorative events are being held across the globe — a tree-planting in Kenya, lake restoration in India, and an environmental symposium in Australia, among other activities.

The UNEP, for its part, caps off various events in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean with two crusades encouraging the rest of the globe to make a pledge to slash ‘foodprints’ and recycle leftover food.

”[…] 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,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a statement.

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About the author

  • Johanna Morden

    Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a former Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covered the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business, and the law.