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Food waste harms climate, biodiversity – UNEP

12 September 2013, 10:47

Abuja - The waste of 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year is not only causing major economic losses but also harm on the natural resources that humanity rely on to survive.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) stated this in a statement issued in Nairobi on Wednesday.

According to the statement, a new FAO report issued in Rome on Wednesday, noted that better policies were required to address the problem of food wastage globally.

The statement quoted Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, as saying:"UNEP and FAO have identified food waste and loss as major challenges in the world.

"They can be used as a major opportunity for economies everywhere to assist in a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient and inclusive Green Economy.

"Today's excellent report by the FAO underlines the multiple benefits that can be realized – in many cases through simple and thoughtful measures.

" For example, households, retailers, restaurants, schools and businesses – that can contribute to environmental sustainability, economic improvements, food security and the realisation of the UN Secretary-General's `Zero Hunger Challenge’.

"We would urge everyone to adopt the motto of our joint campaign: Think Eat Save – Reduce Your Foodprint!’’

UNEP and FAO are founding partners of the Think Eat Save – Reduce Your Foodprint campaign that was launched earlier in the year and whose aim is to assist in coordinating world-wide efforts to bring down food wastage.

The statement said the new FAO report, entitled "Food Wastage Footprint: Impact on Natural Resource" was the first study to analyse the impacts of global food wastage from an environmental perspective.

According to the statement, the study looks specifically at the impact of food wastage on climate, water and land use, and biodiversity.

Among its key findings was that each year, food produced but not eaten, guzzle up a volume of water three times larger than the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River.

"This is responsible for adding 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to the planet’s atmosphere.’’

"In addition to its environmental impacts, the direct economic consequences to producers of food wastage (excluding fish and sea food) run to the tune of 750 billion dollars annually,’’ it stated.

The statement quoted the FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, as saying: "we all – farmers and fishers; food processers and supermarkets; local and national governments, individual consumers – must make changes at every link of the human food chain, to prevent food wastage from happening in the first place, and re-use or recycle it when we can’t.

"In addition to the environmental imperative, there is a moral one: We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste, when 870 million people go hungry every day,” he added.

As a companion to its new study, the statement stated that FAO had also published “tool-kit” that contained recommendations on how food loss and waste could be reduced at every stage of the food chain.

"The tool-kit profiles a number of projects around the world that show how national and local governments, farmers, businesses, and individual consumers can take steps to tackle the problem,’’ it stated.


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