Hundreds of thousands of people are gearing up across the globe celebrate World Environment Day on 5 June, 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 reducing food waste and food losses.
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. In Kenya, for example, 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.
Over half a million people have already been registered on http://www.worldenvironmentday.global/ 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 June 5.
As part of the celebrations, UNEP and partners including the World Resources Institute and the International Fund for Agricultural Development 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.