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UN Launches Campaign against Food Waste from Beirut Popular Singer Ragheb Alama Joins Drive, Pleads for Backing
The UN Environment Program’s Regional Office for Western Asia (UNEP-ROWA) and the UN Information Centre in Beirut (UNIC-Beirut) today launched a one-month awareness campaign to promote new measures and behavioral changes in order to address the world’s widespread problem of food loss and waste and boost efforts to combat hunger and food insecurity.

The campaign was the focus of the World Environment Day whose theme this year is “Think. Eat. Save” in support of the UN Secretary-General’s “Zero-Hunger Challenge” initiative.

In a press conference to launch the drive, UNEP Goodwill Ambassador and well-liked Lebanese singer Ragheb Alama declared his full support for the endeavor and appealed to people and influencers to follow suit and make a real difference. A short TV spot where Alama advocates ending hunger and securing the right of all to enough food was screened for the first at the conference and will be aired on several Lebanese and Arab TV stations for a whole month as well as on all flights of Lebanon’s national carrier Middle East Airlines (MEA) for two months.

Statements were also made at the conference by UNEP-ROWA Regional Representative Iyad Abumoghli, UNIC Beirut Director Bahaa Elkoussy, and Chairman of Future TV and Radio Orient Ramzi Jbeily.

Abumoghli said abiding by sustainable nutritional policies does not only save food for the poor, but also creates new job opportunities. The agricultural sector, he added, provides most of the jobs and hence gives livelihood to some 40 percent of the world’s population today. The UNEP official stressed the need to develop sustainable nutritional policies to confront environmental, economic and social crises, saying that environmental sustainability reduces the impact of conflicts and violence. “It is time to work as individuals, governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, business sectors and leaders in arts, science and media to save our environment, and thus save the children, women, men and youth of the world from poverty, unemployment, hunger and disease,” Abumoghli said.

UNIC chief Elkoussy said even with the vast resources and unprecedented scientific and technological advancement in our world today, more than 20,000 children under five were dying every day of hunger, one out of seven persons goes to bed hungry, and nearly 900 million people are suffering malnutrition. “Although the world food production exceeds the demand, one- third of this production - or around 1.3 billion tons a year - are being wasted during production, transportation, retailing and consumption. The overall area of farmlands whose foodstuffs we lose or waste is approximately 200 times the area of Lebanon. The food we waste worldwide roughly equals that produced by all of Sub-Saharan Africa,” Elkoussy said.

Chief of Future TV and Radio Orient Jbeily pointed out that the campaign’s lofty cause is what prompted his network to back it and decide to lend it ample airtime. The prominent broadcasting company’s executive underscored the role of the media in improving the lives of people, maintaining that in addition to their entertaining part the media have a major educational function that should help people improve their lot.

Certificates of recognition were presented to Ghida Younes for creating and designing the campaign’s slogan and media content, and to Retina Films’ principal and film director Fady Haddad for producing the TV spot. Both contributions were pro bono.

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