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World Environment Day 2013 brings food waste into sharp focus



Today, June 5, World Environment Day 2013 is focusing on reducing food waste. The annual event, which this year is hosted by Mongolia, will look at how the issue affects poorer countries and global natural resources.

Run by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the 41st edition of the event coincides with the release of a study by UNEP and the World Resources Institute (WRI) that shows how “one out of every four calories produced by the global agricultural system is being lost or wasted”.

The report says that this happens at the consumption stage in the western world, while in the developing world, two-thirds of the food lost and wasted occurs close to the farm.

The organisations, which have examined case studies from Afghanistan to Australia where communities have found ways to reduce waste, suggest the development of a protocol to be adopted worldwide in order to monitor how much food is wasted and how this can be avoided.

UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said, “It is an extraordinary fact that in the 21st century, close to 25% of all the calories linked with growing and producing food are lost or wasted between the farm and the fork—food that could feed the hungry, food that has required energy, water and soils in a world of increasing natural resource scarcities and environmental concerns including climate change.”

Food waste has been a hot topic in the past few months. Earlier this year, a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) revealed that between 30-50% of global food is wasted annually. Meanwhile on Wednesday, the House of Commons international development committee called for national action to tackle food waste, which in turn would help tackle inequality in the developing world.

Further reading:

Tackle food waste to tackle inequality, government report says

World wasting up to half of global food

Tesco to take ‘leading role’ in reducing food waste

Enough Food for Everyone IF: landmark anti-poverty campaign launched

Mongolia announced as host of World Environment Day 2013