Did you know that every year about one third of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes – is wasted, yet food security continues to be a growing global concern, affecting millions of people. Or that the world’s freshwater supply such as rivers and lakes are polluted at a much faster rate than nature can recycle and purify?
COVID-19 lockdowns may have led to a dramatic 5 per cent drop in greenhouse gas emissions but not all measures to contain the pandemic have had a positive impact on the environment, warns the UN Conference on Trade and Development. Global sales of disposable face masks have sky-rocketted, and many more people have turned to online shopping due to social distancing.
What does this mean? Plastic waste created by over-packaged products and take-out meals that are delivered daily to homes are now clogging our landfills and floating in our seas. According to the UN Environment Programme, the costs are staggering – the negative spillover effects from plastic waste on fisheries, tourism and maritime transport, for example, can cost up to an estimated $40 billion each year.
In August, we look at the importance of Responsible Consumption and Production as our guide to a less wasteful and more sustainable future.
“The entire food value chain needs to be transformed, all the way from farm to fork,” write UN Development Programme Goodwill Ambassadors and internationally acclaimed chefs Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca. Read their latest blog on why we need to rethink what we eat and how we enjoy food.
A recent joint report issued by several UN agencies, The State of Food Security and Nutrition 2020, looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems, while estimating that at least another 83 million to 132 million people may go hungry in 2020. Current estimates further show that nearly 690 million people – or 8.9 percent of the world population – is hungry, up by 10 million people in one year and by nearly 60 million in five years.
COMING SOON: MOBILE APP FOR SUSTAINABLE LIVING
ActNow, the United Nations campaign for individual action on climate change and sustainability, is getting support from a mobile app this September. In light of COVID-19, we need to seize the moment and change course towards more sustainable lifestyles and take care of our planet – every one of us can help limit global warming by making choices that have less harmful effects on the environment. The new app will educate, engage and help spur behaviour change via journeys, tips and quizzes and highlighting the impact of your actions. Stay tuned for more information!
KEY Events IN AUGUST
This year’s theme focuses on “COVID-19 and indigenous peoples’ resilience” – highlighting the need to preserve and promote indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and practices can be key to efforts to build back stronger and more sustainably. A virtual commemoration will feature a panel discussion on the innovative ways indigenous peoples continue demonstrating resilience and strength in the face of the pandemic.
With the Americas still the epicentre of the pandemic, the World Health Organization recently warned that the region’s indigenous people are among the world’s most vulnerable groups at risk of contracting COVID-19. As of early July, more than 70,000 cases and over 2,000 deaths were reported among this population.
Read the United Nations’ policy brief on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous Peoples” which looks at the vulnerabilities of the indigenous communities.
This International Youth Day, the United Nations will highlight the work inspiring young leaders are doing in their communities, countries and around the world, under the theme, “Youth Engagement for Global Action.”
On that day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will also convene his first official meeting with a group of seven young climate leaders who were recently selected to join his Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change – in an effort to engage and amplify youth voices. Learn more about the leaders and their work here.
Every World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations celebrates and thanks the people who have committed their lives to helping others. The Day is also an opportunity to reflect on the risks aid workers take in the service of others. On that day 17 years ago, 22 people, including the then UN Special Representative in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, were killed in a bomb attack targeting the organization’s headquarters in Baghdad.