NAIROBI: The UN Environment Program (UNEP) on Tuesday appointed Massimo Bottura, an Italian chef and food system activist as the new Goodwill Ambassador to lead the fight against global food waste and loss.
UNEP said Bottura is expected to catalyze action on an issue that not only sees food wasted in a world where over 800 million people go hungry every year, but contributes to the climate and biodiversity crises.
“I am delighted that Massimo Bottura, who is already making a difference through his Refettorios, is joining forces with UNEP to help bring real change,” Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP said in a statement released in Nairobi.
Andersen said there is no room for food loss and waste, especially as millions across the world go hungry.
She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call of the urgent need to transform people’s relationship with nature, and in particular, rethink the way to produce and consume food.
Bottura is expected to send a message to inspire a change of mindset that starts in kitchens at home.
“If we can use all of the ingredients to the fullest potential, we will reduce the amount of waste we are creating and shop more efficiently,” Bottura said while accepting his appointment.
Bottura committed to fighting to reduce global food waste and loss adding that he will require support from populations globally.
“We all must start asking and understanding where our food comes from, taking action to preserve food memories and techniques that can help us innovate for the future and take care not to repeat practices and consumption behaviors that have caused the challenges in our food system today,” he added.
The Goodwill Ambassador observed that the act of cooking as well as that of feeding oneself must become an ethical choice, not just a question of taste.
Bottura is chef-patron of the three-Michelin-star restaurant, Osteria Francescana in Modena, and has been recognized as a social entrepreneur for his commitment to the fight against food waste and social isolation, which is one of the main goals of the non-profit organization he founded with his wife Lara Gilmore, Food for Soul.
During the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy, his family produced an online cooking show called Kitchen Quarantine, which encouraged people to see the invisible potential in every ingredient.
According to UNEP, an estimated one-third of all food produced, about 1.3 billion tons are wasted or lost each year.