Posts Tagged ‘United Nations’

Throwing Food Away

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Aspen Institute posted today a new report on global food waste from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Horrifying findings indicate that 30–50% (or 1.2–2 billion tons) of all food produced worldwide never makes it to human stomachs and that in developed countries like the U.S. 30–50% of the food people buy to eat gets thrown in the trash.

Photo via the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Photo via the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

As Dan Glickman, author of the post, points out:

Thinking about the United States, where one in seven citizens is on food stamps and many more partially reliant on food banks (which regularly complain of shortages), even a fraction of that wasted food making its way to the dinner table would change the lives of millions of Americans.

Not coincidentally, food waste guru Jonathan Bloom reports today on Wasted Food:

Exciting News: The UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Environmental Program and several other partners have joined forces to create Think. Eat. Save, a one-stop shop for your anti-food-waste needs.

Check out that site here and the full Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not report here.

Update: My favorite of the tips from the UN campaign is:

Buy Funny Fruit—many fruits and vegetables are thrown out because their size, shape, or color are not “right”. Buying these perfectly good funny fruit, at the farmer’s market or elsewhere, utilizes food that might otherwise go to waste.

Rio+20+Trash

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brazilian-born, New York-based artist Vik Muniz has set up his latest project in Rio de Janeiro, timed with Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Appropriately entitled Landscape, Muniz’ new work recreates Rio (the global capital of debate around the environment) entirely out of trash. You probably remember Muniz from the incredible documentary Waste Land.

Image

Photo via the AP

As one whose day job revolves around international development, I was somewhat relieved not to have to go to Rio this week and participate in the organized chaos of assessing the state of sustainable development around the world. Women’s rights, my area of focus, don’t get much prominence on the agenda and I have many dutiful colleagues who trooped down to Latin America to remind world leaders that, as a Guatemalan colleague put it recently, “we can’t achieve sustainable development if women’s lives are unsustainable.”

Anyway, that is to say I was feeling pretty jaded and exhausted by the mere thought of all the hustle and bustle and tedious bureaucracy orbiting around a meeting of this size and pomp. Until I read about this new Vik Muniz endeavor. Suddenly, I’m jealous of all the activists and diplomats packed into conference rooms and pouring over the past twenty years of progress (or lack thereof) on issues of sustainability.  Those bastards get to slip out and visit amazing trash art projects! I wonder what other creative efforts environmentally-minded artists have cooked up for this occasion.

Are you in Rio? Send updates and photos, please!

Pirates

Thursday, March 31, 2011

You may have read that a prison just for pirates opened recently, financed with UN money and appropriately located in Somaliland, the self-declared autonomous region of Somalia.

Somali pirates arrested by French commandos, photo via justfoodnow.com

A UN rep laments that they needed to build the prison because while countries will hold trials for stateless people, like pirates roaming the high seas, no one wants to make room for them in their prisons. So the UN decided to build one special.

This story, making the news wire rounds, puts Somali pirates in particular back in the international spotlight. It’s been a while, but you may recall the international melee a few years back when pirates off the coast of Somalia kept kidnapping Europeans and demanding high ransoms for their return. The most interesting part of the story, from a trash perspective, is that these pirates claimed to be defending African waters from the illegal dumping of toxic chemicals by huge European corporations.

As Bloomberg reports, the class, trash and power issues run deep:

Pirates operating off the coast of Somalia carried out 15 of the 16 hijackings at sea this year, according to figures released by the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center on March 24. There are currently 28 seized vessels with 576 hostages held by Somali pirates, the bureau said.

Piracy has flourished off the coast of the Horn of African nation, where a two-decade long war has left the country with no effective government and a moribund economy. Remittances from overseas workers of about $1 billion a year are the country’s main source of revenue, according to the London-based charity World Vision, which runs health, water and education projects in Somalia.

La victoire sur les sachets

Monday, July 20, 2009

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights last year, the office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights at the UN collaborated on an Art for the World project to make a series of videos inspired by that document. This environmentally-themed clip highlights the reuse of plastic bags in Africa to create traditional Djembe drums: 2,000 drums = 20 tons of recycled plastic and offsets 20 tons of wood, which would otherwise have been used to make the instruments.

Via AfriGadget


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