Nutrition for Growth: Beating Hunger through Business and Science


World leaders commit to historic reduction in undernutrition

Leaders gathered in London, UK, in the lead up to this year’s G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, have signed a global agreement to prevent millions of infant and child deaths, and boost the life chances of millions more, by equipping the developing world with the means to beat malnutrition.

At a high-level summit, “Nutrition for Growth: Beating Hunger through Business and Science,” UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation president Jamie Cooper-Hohn united representatives from developing and developed nations, businesses, and scientific and civil society groups, to support a historic reduction in undernutrition.

In signing a Global Nutrition for Growth Compact, participants committed their countries and organizations to achieve the following objectives by 2020:

  • improve the nutrition of 500 million pregnant women and young children;
  • reduce the number of children under five who are stunted by an additional 20 million; and
  • save the lives of at least 1.7 million children by preventing stunting, increasing breastfeeding and better treatment of severe and acute malnutrition.

Among the participants at the central London summit were two presidents and four prime ministers from Africa, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, philanthropist Bill Gates, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Unilever chief executive Paul Polman.

Donors secured new commitments of up to $4.15 billion to tackle undernutrition up to 2020, $2.9 billion of which is core funding with the remainder secured through matched funding. The UK committed an additional £375 million of core funding and £280 million of matched funding from 2013 to 2020.

Countries with previous pledges to increase nutrition funding, like the United States and Canada, committed to continuing those high levels of funding while other governments and institutions, like the European Union, the World Bank and Ireland, promised to increase their support substantially.

The funds will focus on:

  • making world-class scientific knowledge and evidence available, including through a new Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, so that farmers can grow nutrition-rich and resilient crops, such as vitamin-enriched sweet potato and corn, to feed their families and local areas;
  • promoting breastfeeding as a priority for protecting nutrition and saving lives;
  • supporting the governments of developing countries to formulate high quality national nutrition plans and helping them to mobilize domestic resources for them; and
  • ensuring businesses in developing countries place good nutrition at the heart of their workforce welfare priorities.

Undernutrition is an underlying cause in 45% of deaths amongst children under five, while nearly 165 million suffer from stunting which stops children’s bodies from developing properly. The effects of undernutrition have the greatest impact in the first 1000 days of life from conception to a child’s second birthday. Failure to get the right nutrition at this critical time causes irreversible lifelong damage.

The Nutrition for Growth event built on the process started at last year’s Hunger Summit held by the UK and Brazilian governments in London, which highlighted the devastating consequences of undernutrition on children.

The World Health Assembly recently agreed to a new global target of a 40% reduction in the number of stunted children by 2025. The commitments secured at the Nutrition for Growth summit will transform progress towards this goal, and will be monitored and tracked annually. Progress made in addressing undernutrition will be measured at a global event in Brazil at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

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