Earth Day 2013 Message from Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director vr, apr 19, 2013

UNEP is calling on people across the world to share their traditional knowledge and ideas of food preservation whether it be biltong in South Africa, pickling or jam making, sauerkraut in Germany, or the way shark meat is ripened and preserved in ice in Iceland.

Earth Day 2013 marks a special day in itself for millions of people around the globe who care about the environment, and in many ways, for UNEP a countdownto World Environment Day on 5 June which offers another opportunity to mobilize in support of a sustainable century.

Earth Day this year is focusing on Faces of Climate Change - an important public awareness raising exercise given that by 2015 nations have pledged to agree on a new and inclusive UN treaty to deal with theseemingly inexorable build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and all the rising risks for countries and communities across the globe.

World Environment Day 2013, whose global host will be the government and people of Mongolia, is focused on the new UNEP and UN Food and AgriculturalOrganization (FAO) campaign Think-Eat-Save: Reduce Your Foodprint which is aimed at cutting the at least one third of all food produced that never makes it from the farm to the fork.

Different issues, but both connected: Every loss and waste of food represents a loss of the energy involved in growing the food in the first place, and thefuel spent needlessly on transporting produce from farms to shops and homes, often across the globe. Meanwhile small but significant amounts of methane - apowerful greenhouse gas - are linked to food thrown away into the globe's landfills set aside emissions linked with livestock and forests cleared for foodthat is never eaten.

Mongolia is one of the fastest growing countries in the world and one that is aiming for a transition to a green economy and a green civilization - it isnot a big waster or loser of food but the traditional and nomadic life of many of its people does have some ancient answers to the modern-day challenge offood waste.

The Mongol general Chinggis Khan and his troops utilized a traditional food called borts to gallop across Asia without depending on elaborate supply chains- borts is basically concentrated beef equal to the protein of an entire cow but condensed and ground down to the size of a human fist. This remarkablemethod of food preservation, without refrigeration, meant a meal equivalent to several steaks when the protein was shaved into hot water to make soup.

And the Mongolians have other secrets to share that may contribute to preserving and thus not wasting food - aaruul, a form of dried curds that can last asa perfectly healthy dish or snack for years, again without refrigeration. UNEP is calling on people across the world to share their traditional knowledgeand ideas of food preservation whether it be biltong in South Africa, pickling or jam making, sauerkraut in Germany, or the way shark meat is ripened andpreserved in ice in Iceland. Please send your suggestions, ideas and ancient tips to worldenvironmentday@unep.org so we can document them on the WED website.

Earth Day and WED 2013 are linked as are the challenges and the opportunities for delivering economic growth and generating decent green jobs withoutpushing humanity's footing past planetary boundaries. Reducing food waste and food loss is an economic, ethical and environmental challenge as is climatechange. Both need addressing urgently and in seeing the links we can deliver multiple benefits in line with the transition to a green economy in thecontext of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

 
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