For UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Yaya Touré and Executive Director Achim Steiner, the day commenced in style with a ride in a Tesla. Their trip to the Expo continued in a Fiat Panda, which had been retrofitted with an electric drivetrain. UNEP powered the vehicles with 100% renewable electricity in order to minimise the environmental impact of the journey. Steiner valued the importance of the Fiat retrofit in providing a second life for an old car, while Touré was a particular fan of the driving capability of the Tesla.
The World Environment Day opening ceremony emphasised the need for everyday actions like this to work in tandem with policy actions. The main policy outcome from World Environment Day and the Milan Expo is the Charter of Milan. Based around the Expo theme of “feeding the planet, energy for life”, the Charter of Milan identifies and addresses the main issues surrounding sustainable resource use. Steiner and the Italian Minister of Environment Gian Luca Galletti signed the Charter during the World Environment Day activities, calling on individuals, organisations and governments to take responsibility to ensure the sustainability of food systems in providing for future generations.
The World Environment Day activities were not just policy-related, there was also the opportunity for some practical learning during the sustainable cooking demonstrations and classes. The focus of the program was the reduction of food waste, which currently impacts the adequate provision of food around the world. During the World Environment Day opening ceremony José Graziano da Silva, Director General of the UN FAO, highlighted that around 1/3 of all food produced is wasted. Rich countries waste as much food as is produced in the entire sub-Saharan region.
The same activity was undertaken simultaneously in Nairobi, where the UNEP headquarters is located. Children in Nairobi learnt to make samosas, a traditional Kenyan dish, which also can use leftover vegetables for filling. These sessions were facilitated by talented members of the Slow Food movement, a grassroots organisation which aims to encourage interest in the origins and impact of food.