Thousands take part in World Environment Day

WED 2013

Hundreds of thousands of people are getting ready to take part in ‘positive environmental action’ for World Environment Day today (5 June).

Established by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to mark the opening of the 1972 Stockholm Conference – the first time the international community met to consider global environment and development needs together – World Environment Day (WED) sees individuals and businesses alike make ‘positive changes’ to reduce their impact on the environment.

This year, WED is hosted by Mongolia and focuses on the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO) campaign ‘Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint’. Past World Environment Day thematic celebrations included caring for the forests, the ozone layer, desertification and sustainable development.

Mongolia, reported to be one of the fastest-growing countries in the world but one with little food waste, kicked off proceedings to WED by opening its first wind farm on Salhit Mountain in Tuv Province yesterday (4 June).

Speaking of WED 2013, the Mongolian President, H.E. Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, said: "Mongolia is proud to be at the center of the international transition to a Green Economy by hosting the United Nations World Environment Day (WED) celebrations on and around 5 June 2013. This is a great honour for us, as well as a responsibility. 

"I welcome you to Mongolia to join us for WED 2013 to see how Mongolia is planning the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy. I am sure, Mongolia will serve as a source of inspiration for the global act for nature. May all good deeds prosper."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added: "We must ensure access to adequate nutrition for all, double the productivity of smallholder farmers who grow the bulk of food in the developing world, and make food systems sustainable in the face of environmental and economic shocks.

"On this World Environment Day, I urge all actors in the global food chain to take responsibility for environmentally sustainable and socially equitable food systems. The current global population of seven billion is expected to grow to nine billion by 2050. But the number of hungry people need not increase. By reducing food waste, we can save money and resources, minimize environmental impacts and, most importantly, move towards a world where everyone has enough to eat."


According to FAO, each year an estimated one third of all food produced (1.3 billion tonnes) ends up in the bins of consumers, retailers, farmers and transporters. This would reportedly be enough to feed the 870 million (one in every seven) people who go to bed hungry each day, of which 20,000 children under the age of five die as a result.

The new campaign ‘Think.Eat.Save’ aims to spread the message that every individual and organisation can make a difference in reducing food waste whilst saving money and minimising environmental impacts.

Countries across the globe are encouraged to celebrate WED through organising food waste awareness competitions, flash mobs, events, concerts and ceremonies.

Schools across the United Kingdom are set to raise awareness through food waste assemblies, ‘Green Days’, where pupils dress in green clothing, and special classes on the food waste problem. Charities such as Doncaster’s Food Aware Community Interest Company will be collecting surplus fruit and vegetables for donation to those in need, while Jersey in Transition will be promoting the message of home composting.

Across the globe, supporters of WED include the U.S Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency, which have launched the U.S Food Waste Challenge (inviting producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities, and other government agencies to reduce food waste, recover surplus food and recycle or compost discards) and Go.Asia’s Facebook campaign ‘No Leftovers Pledge’, which asks individuals and celebrities to post photos of themselves holding a pledge board saying they will cut back on food waste.

As part of WED, UNEP and partners including the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development will also be launching two reports: one presenting a menu of solutions to reduce food waste and loss, and the other highlighting how smallholder farmers have the potential to ‘lift one billion people out of poverty given the right support and enabling conditions’.

Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner said: “Every year on 5 June, people across the planet celebrate the United Nations World Environment Day. It is a day for action where hundreds of thousands of activities take place in virtually every country in the world to improve the environment now and for the future.

“This year’s theme focuses on food waste and food loss... It draws attention both to the issue and the absurdity that high volumes of perfectly edible produce are never making it from the farm to the fork.”

Read more about World Environment Day and how you can get involved.