The World Environment Day (WED) was celebrated last week Wednesday in Mongolia under the theme Think.Eat.Save.
For Namibia, the day should have meant a lot seeing that more than 400 000 people are facing grim prospect of a hungry future and Government a state of emergency has been declared.
This year’s theme encourages those who have more than enough to spare a little for those in need.
The organisers of the event, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) say save is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign which encourages the haves to reduce their foodprint.
Statistics contained in FAO’s Global Food Losses and Food Waste report as well as those in United Nations Environment Programme show staggering amounts of food that goes to waste very year.
Both the reports note that about 1.3billion tonnes of food go to waste every year and this is equivalent to what the entire sub-Saharan Africa produces.
Every year, consumers in rich countries alone waste almost 222 million tonnes of food with United States alone wasting 30% of food worth US$48.3b (N$483b) and the United Kingdom losing about 6.7 million tonnes of food.
The reports also note that one in every seven people retire to bed on empty stomachs while 20 000 children under five years old die of hunger every day.
In exploring food shortages in this year’s theme, UNEP notes that food waste (an estimated third of food production) strains the environment especially now when the world has more than seven billion inhabitants who are projected to be nine billion by 2050.
It says if food is wasted, all the resources and inputs used in the production of all the food are also lost.
Giving the example of milk, UNEP says it takes about 1 000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk and about 16 000 litres goes into a cow’s food to make a hamburger.
“The resulting greenhouses gas emissions from the cows themselves and throughout the food supply chain all end up in vain when we waste food.
“In fact, the global food production occupies 25% of all habitable land and is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and land-use change,” FAO further notes.
Furthermore, food waste leads to wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides; more fuel used for transportation; and more rotting food and creates more methane – one of the most harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
Think.Eat.Save, therefore, encourages people to think about the impact their food choices have on the environment as well as measures on how to curb the devastation such choices have.
“This year’s campaign rallies you to take action from your home and then witness the power of collective decisions you and others have made to reduce food waste, save money, minimise the environmental impact of food production and force food production processes to become more efficient,” FAO says.
Part of saving food is buying local to avoid flying food stuffs across continents as well as consuming organic food that do not have any negative impact on the environment.