Helsinki: One third of the food produced in the world is thrown away, said Janez Potocnik, co-chair of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) International Resource Panel here on Monday.
He made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the first World Forum of circular economy (WCEF2017) which convened in Helsinki and attracted some 1,700 experts from 90 countries, Xinhua reported. Potocnik also said that nearly 800 million people are hungry in the world, while over 2 billion people are obese, calling for public policy and political will to solve the problem.
He said migration problem is one of the repercussions caused by the imbalance of resources. "We should refocus from addressing the consequences to the reasons that lead to economic and social imbalance", he said. The forum hosted by the Finnish innovation fund Sitra aims to promote circular economy as a model for economic growth.
Sergei Ivanov, representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said circular economy will be of major importance to Russia. He mentioned plans to offer tax incentives to producers that involve recycling.
Matti Vanhanen, Finland's former prime minister and the chairman of the supervisors of Sitra, noted that over half of the participants were business people. He told them to proceed "even when politicians make wrong decisions".
Mikko Kosonen, CEO of Sitra, said the global business has realised that sustainable development is in their interest. He could not see tangible political opposition either, but he added at the press briefing that "he did not know about the US".
Kosonen predicted circular economy will be a new achievement Finland will be known for, along with the basic income scheme now being worked on. He recalled the welfare state and general free education as earlier milestones.
Mari Panzar, director of the carbon neutral circular economy at Sitra, said the fund first started the project with encouraging the sale of surplus school food in a Finnish town. Finland offers free school lunches but the unused food had customarily been thrown away. The system later widened to hundreds of schools. Sitra has also acted a catalyst in creating sustainable mining norms in Finland. "It was difficult at the start as the mining industry was concerned about its interests," she said.
A total of 130 speakers will be heard during the two-day conference.