Opening remarks by Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific at the World Environment Day 2013 Celebration

Manila, Philippines
5 June 2013

Good Afternoon and welcome to World Environment Day 2013 in the Western Pacific Region.

World Environment Day is an annual event, designed to become the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action.

Today is a good opportunity for the staff of the Regional Office to join the rest of the world in this celebration.

We cannot achieve good health without a safe and sustainable environment.

The theme for World Environment Day 2013 is "Think.Eat.Save".

Think.Eat.Save calls on us to reduce food waste and loss – to reduce our "foodprint"!

Today's festivities will encourage us to be more aware of the health and environmental impact of the food choices we make.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization states that 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year.

The impact of that waste is not just financial. It also has adverse health and environmental impacts.

Food waste leads to the wasteful use of chemicals – such as fertilizers and pesticides – and more fuel used for transportation. Food waste also leads to more garbage in landfills.

All these impacts result in increased methane levels. Methane is one of the most harmful greenhouse gases contributing to global warming.

In general, World Environment Day reminds people not to buy what they cannot consume and to buy locally produced food whenever possible to reduce emissions.

People are also reminded to reduce food waste by composting.

In fact, Dr Rafael Guerrero III has joined us today to discuss his celebrated work in "vermicomposting" – which is composting using earthworms.

Also joining us today to celebrate are the participants from the Informal Consultation of the Regional Forum on Environment and Health.

Again, thank you all for coming, and I wish you a happy World Environment Day.