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Message of UNCCD Executive Secretary on the occasion of the World Environment Day

World Environment Day
5 June 2013
“Think. Eat. Save - Reduce Your Foodprint”


Food production has a profound impact on our environment. Consider that globally agriculture withdraws 70 percent of all freshwater for irrigation. It is a driver for about 80 percent of the deforestation and contributes 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Unsustainable land and water use expedites land degradation and the loss of biodiversity.  

Food is produced at such a high environmental cost. Yet, every year about one third of it is either wasted or lost. Meantime, one in seven people still goes to bed hungry. This enormous drain on our limited natural resources is shocking and morally unacceptable. 

By 2030, the demand for food is expected to increase by at least 50 percent. To be able to feed the growing human population, we will need at least an additional 120 million hectares of agricultural land. This is a new farm the size of South Africa. We will never meet these needs unless we start to preserve productive lands that we have now from unsustainable use, and restore lands that have already been degraded.     

“Think. Eat. Save” is the slogan for this year’s World Environment Day. It calls us all to reduce our foodprint to help save the environment and secure our natural capital, which is the foundation of sustainability. We cannot live without food but we can and must produce and consume food in a more sustainable manner. 

We have made a first and most important step in this direction last year at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, when governments recognized the urgent need to reverse land degradation and to strive to achieve a land-degradation neutral world. So we must avoid land degradation and restore already degraded lands. 

Business as usual is no longer an option. Every individual and every country is responsible for our common wellbeing on this planet. Let us, therefore, do everything it takes to avoid wasting food and stop devastating our environment and natural resources.  

I congratulate the United Nations Environment Programme for drawing public attention to this crucial issue and encourage everybody to join the call to think before eating and help save our environment and our precious natural resources.  

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You can read the message of the UN Secretary-General on the World Environment Day here and the message of the UNEP Executive Director here​

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