“Think as you should, eat as you must and save if you can”, Says UN Resident Coordinator on World Environment Day

With a simple message of the ‘return to basics’ of food consumption—and conservation-echoing throughout the event, nearly 40 institutions and groups took part in the World Environment Day commemoration held on 05 June 2013 in Harare.

Drawing over 300 representatives from Government, UN, private sector, academic and NGO representatives, the meeting was a culmination of the ‘Environment week’ celebrated under the theme Think. Eat. Save. Reduce your Foodprint.

Setting the tone of the event, UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Alain Noudehou called for a change in behaviour in the way individuals relate to food items. “Simple steps such as smart shopping, understanding expiration dates and requesting for only the portion that you are able to consume at restaurants could go a long way in minimizing your foodprint,” the Resident Coordinator said.

The Resident Coordinator observed that at least a third of everything we grow on this planet is lost between the field and the consumer. “It is ethical, economic and environmental concern given the enormous waste of energy, water, fertilisers and other inputs as a result of food that is produced but never eaten.”

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted in the food production and consumption systems. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger (FAO).

“Why do you keep your television sets running in the bedrooms, dining rooms and guest wings when it is clear that you cannot watch them all at once?” posed the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources Management, Honourable Francis Nhema. He added: “Let us remember those little things that we do that have an impact on energy and the environment.”

Speaking on the theme, the Minister disclosed that in Zimbabwe, 150 000 tonnes of domestic waste is generated annually with food waste accounting for 70 per cent of this figure. “It is indeed sad to note that while a lot of people in Zimbabwe do not have adequate food, the bulk of waste on our dumpsites is organic,” said the Minister.

In Zimbabwe, the commemoration of the World Environment Day included a “green bag” discussion on 04 June 2013. There was also an exhibition by representatives of community-based organizations at the grounds of the United Nations Offices in Arundel Business Park, showcasing best practices in waste management, organic farming and traditional foods. In addition, Environmental Management Agency organized a similar exhibition at the Africa Unity Square on 05 June 2013.

Read the Statement by the UN Resident Coordinator