NAIROBI – Hundreds of thousands of people are gearing up across the globe to take part in World Environment Day, the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action.
This year the main event is hosted by the Government and people of Mongolia, and focuses on the new UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) campaign Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint, which is aimed at slashing food waste.
Each year, an estimated one third of all food produced ends up spoiling in the bins of consumers, retailers, farmers and transporters. This 1.3 billion tonnes, worth around US$1 trillion, is enough to feed the 870 million people who go hungry each day several times over.
This unconsumed food, much of which can be cut out through simple measures, wastes both the energy put into growing it and the fuel spent on transporting produce across vast distances. Additionally, significant amounts of the powerful greenhouse gas methane emanate from food decomposing on landfills, while livestock and forests cleared for food production contribute to global warming.
The new campaign has already made inroads into spreading the message that every individual and organization can make a difference, and World Environment Day aims to further reinforce this idea.
The main celebrations take place on 5 June each year, although events take place before and after this date. Over half a million people have already been registered on http://hqweb.unep.org/wed and it is not too late to get involved. Register your activity on the website and sign up to take part in a WED Thunderclap, which will send a resounding message to the world on 5 June, at http://hqweb.unep.org/wed/thunderclap.
As part of the celebrations, UNEP and partners including the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will launch two reports: one presenting a menu of solutions to reduce food waste and loss, and one highlighting how smallholder farmers have the potential to lift one billion people out of poverty given the right support and enabling conditions.
Mongolia is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, and is aiming to ensure this growth goes hand in hand with a green economy and civilization. While Mongolia does not waste significant food, the traditional nomadic lifestyle of some of its people—who developed ways to preserve food for long periods—offers some ancient answers to the modern-day challenge of food waste.
Highlights of the WED 2013 programme in Mongolia include:
1 June -- International Children’s Day -- Various activities for children themed on the environment, including flashmobs, at Central Square, Ulaanbaatar.
2 June -- Ulaanbaatar-2013 marathon -- Flagged off by current marathon world record holder Patrick Makau, the UNEP Patron for Clean Air, the marathon will see thousands of runners wind through the city on a day where the city centre has been designated car free.
3 June -- Green Development National Forum-- Mongolia, which has placed a moratorium on new mining concessions while looking to a more sustainable future, will unveil its new green development plans—which include a focus on renewable energy and eco-tourism.
4 June -- Launch of First Wind Farm -- As part of its transition to a low-carbon future, Mongolia launches its first wind farm on Salhit Mountain in Tuv Province. Later in the day, the joint IFAD and UNEP-WCMC ‘Smallholders, Food Security and the Environment’ report will be launched.
5 June -- Official WED Celebrations-- The official WED celebrations take place, including the release of the joint UNEP-WRI working paper ‘Sustainable Food Futures’.
(For daily coverage of the Mongolia events, visit hqweb.unep.org/wed/news/hostcountry2013.asp)
Events are taking place in hundreds of countries, spanning every continent. Below are just a few of these celebrations.
Afghanistan -- UNEP Afghanistan is combining WED with a workshop on Afghanistan’s Sustainable Development Public Private Partnership (PPP). The workshop will take place at Kabul University and will address topics such as: Waste Management; Sanitation; CO2 Reduction and Recycling in Afghanistan.
On 1 June, the Conservation Council is holding a four-course, zero-waste meal prepared from the sustainable kitchen of Canberra’s Merici College. All funds raised for the night go to support the Conservation Council’s vital work. http://worldenvironmentdayact.eventbrite.com.au/
Bosnia and Herzegovina -- Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital and largest city Sarajevo will be the European host of this year’s World Environment Day celebrations. On 5 June, the city will host environmental experts in a series of events focused on engaging citizens on food waste and its environmental impact.
Brazil -- The organization ADEC will promote food and nutritional awareness on organic cotton farms and organic cotton-growing communities and their schools around the world. Each child from 10-12 designated schools gets to create a poster, art work or sculpture promoting the different food crops grown alongside organic cotton. The competition will see the children pitch the advantages of local, safe and fresh food production to their peers.
China -- Tongji University in Shanghai’s International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability (ISCES) will coincide with the global WED event on and around 5 June. ISCES 2013, starting on 5 June and lasting for four days, is set to focus on “Food, Health and Sustainable Development”. Supported and funded by UNEP, Tongji University and Beijing Green Future Environmental Foundation, and organized by UNEP-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development, the conferences held thus far attracted over 400 students from more than 40 countries across the globe.
Other events include a series of campaigns including the designation of Environmental Protection Envoys and a WED-themed concert. The UN Forum on Sustainable Consumption will also be held on 5 June in Beijing.
France -- UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics in Paris is running a competition called Love Your Leftovers, which asks global citizens to show their love for leftovers and submit a recipe that will clean out the fridge. The overall winning recipe and contributor will be announced on 5 June, with a top mystery first prize up for grabs and 20 exclusive Vivienne Westwood GreenUp! t-shirts going to runners-up. The competition is supported by 20Minutes, a free newspaper that can be picked up around Paris and on the Metro. On 5 June, 20 Minutes will also publish an article to announce the winner and to propose some practical tips to prevent food waste. In addition, hundreds of electronic billboards around Paris will feature the Think.Eat.Save campaign slogan and a link to the WED website.
The GoodPlanet Foundation, in conjunction with France’s Casino supermarket group, is running a campaign called “To Choose is To Act” until 9 June. The campaign is taking place in all of Casino’s stores, and calls for consumers to opt for products that respect the environment. The Foundation informed Casino which products are most environmentally friendly, and the supermarket is promoting these products during the campaign.
Haiti and Dominican Republic -- Haiti’s Ministry of the Environment will launch—in conjunction with the Ministry of the Environment in the Dominican Republic, UNEP and the UN Development Programme (UNDP)—a report on the border zone between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The report presents the findings and recommendations of an 18-month long assessment of the 380-km border between Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and the Dominican Republic, a middle-income country.
India -- From Bangalore to Chennai, tens of thousands of young people will take part in runs, awareness-raising events and tree-planting ceremonies to highlight the issue of food waste and other pressing environmental concerns.
Kenya -- More than 2,000 volunteers from Action Green for Trade and Sustainable Development (AGTSD) will reach supermarkets, restaurants and hotels with the message that reducing food waste and loss could have a significant impact on world hunger levels.
Mexico -- On 5 June, the new edition of the International Poster Biennial will be launched during one of the events celebrating WED in Mexico. The environmental category will be themed on Think.Eat.Save, and two awards will be handed out: one for best poster by a professional and one for best poster by a student.
Thailand -- The UN is working with the caterer Sodexo to run a waste-free environment at UN facilities in Bangkok from 3 to 7 June.
United States -- The City of Portland, Oregon will host this year’s North American WED celebrations. Activities to be held in Portland on 5 June include:
· International Children’s Painting Competition award ceremony at Portland State University Native American Community Center;
· Rose Festival Parade—Portland’s largest public event—is holding this year’s event in honor of WED, including a float;
· A rally in the RoZone of Tom McCall Waterfront Park with fun and educational activities for children of all ages free to the public. Activities include storytelling, mask-making, fly casting, fly tying, trash art and the chance to be part of the Procession of the Species, a mini-parade around the waterfront featuring folks dressed as their favorite animals.
Visit http://www.portlandoregon.gov/wed/ for details.
Think.Eat.Save, ties in with the ‘Bon Appetit’ theme of Greening the Blue, the programme aimed at making the UN more environmentally friendly. The campaign is asking people to make a food-waste related pledge, take a photo of this pledge, and enter a draw.
From Beirut, the UN is conducting an awareness campaign in the Arab region focusing on eliminating hunger and reducing food waste. Famous Lebanese singer Ragheb Alama agreed to be the advocate of the campaign, which consists of a one-month campaign on Future TV and Radio Orient, production of a 30-minute TV spot by Ragheb Alama, and partnerships with airlines.
In the Nordic-Baltic region, a new advertising competition will be launched on June 5, calling on professionals and non-professionals to create a newspaper ad that will inspire people to think about the detrimental effects of food waste and loss. The contest, to be kicked off by the United Nations Regional Information Center (UNRIC), the Nordic Council of Ministers and UNEP, will be open to participants from Nordic countries and its Baltic partners (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Baltic Russia, including St Petersburg). The winner will be announced at a Feeding the 5000 (one of the partners in Think.Eat.Save) event in Copenhagen on October 4 and will be awarded the Nordic Council of Ministers Prize of 5,000 Euros. Visit www.thinkeatsave.org/nordiccompetition for more details.
Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint: The campaign harnesses the expertise of organizations such as WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), Feeding the 5,000 and other partners, including national Governments, who have considerable experience targeting and changing wasteful practices. It aims to accelerate action and provide a global vision and information-sharing portal for the many and diverse initiatives currently underway around the world. Visit www.thinkeatsave.org
About World Environment Day: WED aims to be the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. WED activities take place year round but climax on 5 June. WED celebrations began in 1972 and have grown to become the one of the main vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action. Through WED, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is able to personalize environmental issues and enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development. Visit the WED site: hqweb.unep.org/wed/
For more information, please contact:
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Director of Communications and Spokesperson
UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi)