For some people, their relationship with food has evolved to merely eating for sustenance and survival. It has become an art form for the culinarily talented and ignited romance in food lovers. Meanwhile, a vast population of people around the globe are simply wishing that more food is available to satisfy their hunger; according to the World Health Organization, 821 million people were hungry and undernourished across the world in 2017; that’s one in every nine people.
On October 16, the world celebrated the annual World Food Day, a day dedicated to addressing global hunger and a day honoring the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. World Food Day is celebrated across 150 countries around the world to promote awareness and provide action to help those who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
I attended the World Food Day: The Journey of Food event to mark the occasion, organized by WWF Philippines in partnership with Ayala Malls, Old Manila Eco Market and GCash.
With this year’s theme – Our Actions Are Our Future Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World, WWF Philippines took the opportunity to educate the audience about the connection between climate change, food security and sustainability.
Food security is crucial in achieving an adequate standard of living, I learned. Different non-profits and NGOs are trying their best to achieve Zero Hunger by the year 2030, as part of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.
As we know, our world population is growing, with the UN projecting that we could reach 8.5 billion by 2030 and 9.9 billion by 2050. Thus we have to come up with ways to feed everybody and this spells disaster for the environment, climate change and conservation movements, with the expectation that more forests will need to be converted to agricultural land and more seafood will have to be caught from the oceans. It’s why its become crucial to develop our cities, countries and economies in the most sustainable way possible to support this growing population.
WWF Philippines have implemented various local projects that focus on food security and sustainability. World hunger is at risk of increasing as climate change threatens the future of food and the ability to secure it.
Drought, storms and floods bring devastation to fields of crops and livestock. Furthermore, the changing climate and unsustainable fishing practices affect the productivity of our ecosystem and with roughly 800 million people depending on seafood for food and livelihood, the negative impacts on health, nutrition and community well-being are enormous.
Climate change also puts our oceans under severe pressure. If we do not take action to adapt and mitigate the climate crisis, world hunger is projected to increase by 20 percent more by the year 2050.
The journey of food naturally begins with the people on the frontlines, the farmers and workers planting and harvesting crops, fishing or raising livestock. WWF Philippines focuses not just on securing the future of food but the livelihoods of local farmers and fisher folk as well.
Food production and consumption has a lot to do with the state of our environment today. In Metro Manila alone, over 2,000 tons of food waste is produced each day. That is equivalent to about 700 truck loads of food being dumped in landfills. When food waste in landfills decays, it produces methane which is a strong greenhouse gas. The volume of food waste produced in Metro Manila in addition to the additional 70% greenhouse gases being emitted because of sectors such as transport and industry, makes the metro area a hotspot for global climate change. As a solution, WWF Philippines and East West Seed Foundation introduced the urban container gardening.
Read more: How You Can Be a Sustainable Diner and Reduce Food Waste in the Philippines
Agriculture: Urban Container Gardening
The cities are becoming overcrowded and a space for gardening isn’t always accessible. However, this should not stop us from producing our own food. Urban container gardening is a great way to help us connect with our food, brings agriculture to our homes and creates green spaces where none existed before.
To illustrate the concept of urban container gardening, Moncini Hinay, project manager of the Sustainable Farm to Table Program, invited RC Dela Cruz of East West Seed Foundation to demonstrate sack gardening to four volunteers.
Watching the demonstration, it was clear that this was a great way to recycle used burlap sacks and rice sacks. This sack gardening idea enables city dwellers to nurture their vegetable patches where they could grow tomatoes, eggplants and other kinds of vegetables.
Sustainable Seafood: Fish Forward 2
Seafood is the most traded food commodity around the world with 800 million people relying on it for sustenance and livelihood. To be able to accommodate the world’s growing population, we need seafood to be more abundant by at least another 75 million tons come year 2050. However, with overfishing, illegal fishing and climate change, this target may not be feasible.
WWF Philippines aims to tackle overfishing in times of climate change through their sustainable seafood programs. One such initiative is the Fish Forward 2 project which encourages everyone to be mindful and responsible in their seafood consumption.
Related Post: Sustainable Seafood: Can Fish Really Be Sustainably Farmed?
Another way the organization is addressing unsustainable seafood practices is by using traceability, ‘From Hook to Cook‘ as it’s referred to. By encouraging people to trace where their seafood has come from, they are educating them on the importance of knowing what food is on their our plate, and whether the seafood was caught legally and sustainably. Consumers should look for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified seafood if they want to be certain that it has been legally and sustainably caught. This certification is guided by three principles – sustainability of stock, ecosystem impacts and effective management.
Reforesting Project: Forests for Water
Like other parts of the world, the Philippines too is experiencing a water crisis. There are places in Metro Manila where there are water shortages and people don’t have access to water. Roughly 98 percent of the town water comes from a system of dams and tunnels in the Umiray, Angat, Ipo and La Mesa watersheds. This system supplies water to the millions of residents of Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. Among these watersheds, Ipo Watershed in Norzagaray, Bulacan needs to be most rehabilitated. Keep in mind that if there are no forests, there is no water. Without water, there is no life.
Due to years and years of illegal activities, Ipo only has about 40 percent cover. To remedy this, a reforestation project called the Forests for Water Program has been implemented by WWF Philippines together with its project partners, Department of Environment and natural Resources (DENR) and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). The aim is to reforest least 1,038 hectares, or 15 percent of Ipo Watershed.
Through this reforestation program, securing the sustainable water supply in Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces will hopefully be achieved. This year, the Forests for Water project is set to plant over 62,000 seedlings in 130 hectares of this region.
WWF Philippines has also collaborated with GCash to help spur the reforestation program. GCash Forest is an app that encourages everyday people to switch to sustainable lifestyle choices, with a mission to plant 365,000 trees in 365 days. There are 52,000 trees lost in the Philippines every day. With GCash Forest, users can be involved in the rehabilitation project of the Ipo Watershed. All they need to do is download the free app (available on both the App Store and Google Play), switch to cashless payments and adopt a green lifestyle (the app offers users many tips on how to do this).
So what can you do to be a part of this journey in protecting the future of food and mitigating the rise of world hunger? Start with your own food choices. Here are some tips:
- Grow your own organic herbs and produce
- Check food miles
- Purchase food from farmers’ markets and local growers if possible
- Trace where your food comes from
- Buy only what you need
- Consume responsibly
- Avoid wasting food
- Compost food scraps
- Reduce meat intake or switch to a plant-based diet
- Frequent plant-based cafes and restaurants or order plant-based meals when dining out
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Title image of Burmese fisherman by TC Kniss/Unsplash. All other images supplied by author unless otherwise stated.