Statement by UNDP Deputy Resident Representative at the celebration of World Environment Day 2013

05 Jun 2013

Director of ceremony,

Hon. Uahekua Herunga, Minister of Environment & Tourism     

Hon.   Usko   N.   Nghaamwa,   Governor   of   the Ohangwena Region

Her Worship Julia N. Shikongo, Mayor of Een- hana Town

Hon. Nehemia Udeiko Haufiku, Councilor of Eenhana Constituency      

Mr. Kaambu, Chairperson of the Northern Namibia Forestry Committee

Distinguished Representatives from Civil society,

Esteemed Members of the Media,

Invited Delegates and Participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, it is indeed, my greatest pleasure to share a few remarks with all of you at this occasion.

Before I read the Secretary General’s messages, I would like to say a few words about today.

Recognizing global environmental challenges faced by every society, community, government and continent in the world; June 5th was set apart, as a reminder about environmental protection, to ensure that nature, its services and goods are sustainably managed. 

Here in Namibia, the UNDP partners with the Government of Namibia, Civil Society, and Private sector to celebrate and observe the United Nations World Environment Day (WED). WED is a day to recall for action where hundreds of thousands of activities take place in virtually every country in the world to improve t ways of managing and taking care of environmental goods and services, for current and future generations.

The Tree planting and cleaning campaign taking place in Eenhana town today suit this occasion well.  Environmental management is made authentic by local actors, with local actions, at local levels, where everyday life is intrinsically connected and interwoven into natural capital and assets for water, fire, timber, food, and land.  Namibia at large and Eenhana community in particular, are part of this web of life and by doing its part to preserve and advocate for conservation of an important global asset, i.e. the environment, that provides life for all of us on earth, is particularly befitting. Majority of Namibians, rural and urban are partially, if not wholly, dependent on environmental goods and services. They make up a large part of the Namibian economy, from fishery, tourism, mining, agricultural goods and services. Thus doing the little, that you are doing, within this community is a major contribution to the entire economy of the country.  It is all these small, related actions and, efforts at regional level that ultimately will culminate into the good will of keeping Namibia’s environment intact as enshrined in the Constitution, and re-emphasized on numerous international environmental conventions that Namibia has committed to and obligated to do its part.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to now read the United Nations Secretary-General‘s message on World Environment Day, 5 June 2013, which has a specific theme titled: Think –Eat- Save: reduce your footprint

I quote:

We live in a world of plenty, where food production outstrips demand, yet 870 million people are undernourished and childhood stunting is a silent pandemic.  To create the future we want, we must correct this inequity.  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.  This is the vision of my Zero Hunger Challenge, launched last year at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

One way to narrow the hunger gap and improve the well-being of the most vulnerable is to address the massive loss and waste inherent in today’s food systems.  Currently at least one third of all food produced fails to make it from farm to table.  This is foremost an affront to the hungry, but it also represents a massive environmental cost in terms of energy, land and water. 

In developing countries, pests, inadequate storage facilities and inefficient supply chains are major contributors to food loss.  Those who grow for export are also often at the mercy of over-stringent expectations of buyers who place a premium on cosmetic perfection.  In developed nations, food thrown away by households and the retail and catering industries rots in landfills, releasing significant quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. 

Food loss and waste is something we can all address.  That is why the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization and public and private sector partners have launched the “Think.Eat.Save: Reduce Your Foodprint” campaign to raise global awareness and showcase solutions relevant to developed and developing countries alike. 

Infrastructure and technology can reduce the amount of food that perishes after it is harvested and before it reaches the market.  Developing country governments can work to improve essential infrastructure and maximize trade opportunities with neighbours; developed nations can support fair trade and rationalize sell-by dates and other labeling systems; businesses can revise their criteria for rejecting produce; and consumers can minimize waste by buying only what they need and re-using left-over food.

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.

End of quote.

I thank you.