Waste Not, Want Not
A United Nations Environment Program report released in February in Nairobi called for new sustainable methods in the processing and disposal of food to avoid unnecessary waste and avert a new food crisis. According to the UNEP report, the inefficiency in food handling- particularly in the sheer volume of food thrown away- results in one half of the food produced today lost and wasted.
This news comes as figures released by UNEP show that Africa receives only 13 percent of the international investment in agricultural research and sustainable use, which the organization states will be key to avoiding unnecessary food loss. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, in a speech at the opening of the UNEP environmental forum for government ministers, reiterated the need for funding for sustainable development. "The developed countries must generously fund environment-related activities...they too have an obligation based on sustainability of the global resource base," he said.
The concept of a green economy was one that was used by both President Kibaki and UNEP Director Achim Steiner, with Kibaki calling for a "green and low carbon economy" and Steiner issuing a call for "a new wave of thinking to address environmental issues alongside economic development." A green economy, the UNEP urged, would be efficient- particularly as high rates of food waste and a struggling global economy are causing food prices to rise for the first time in 100 years. In Africa alone, the UNEP estimates that 30 percent of caught fish are lost due to discards at sea and spoilage, a small percentage of the 30 million tons of fish lost at sea each year.
Among the seven points suggested by the UNEP to spur efficiency in the food processing system are the regulation of food prices, the promotion of environmentally sustainable biofuels, and the use of alternative feed to allow grains now used to feed livestock to be used to feed humans.
-Equatorial Press Staff Report. Photo Courtesy of Seigfried Modola/IRIN.