UN Global Compact and BASF Host Event to Address Undernutrition for the World’s Poorest
(New York) – Today BASF, the Micronutrient Initiative, and the UN Global Compact concluded “Addressing Malnutrition at the Base of Pyramid,” a Technical Partnership Dialogue. The event fostered discussion among nutrition stakeholders to raise awareness, create a learning platform and initiate programs that address hunger and undernutrition worldwide. Close to 100 nutrition experts from the private sector and international developmental agencies attended. Panelists and presenters from the World Bank, UNICEF, USAID GAIN, UNDP, Maplecroft, Indonesian Coalition for Fortification, Kraft Foods, and Banner, participated in discussions and question and answer sessions that focused on partnership ideas for scaling up nutrition.
The program was facilitated by Evelyne Guindon, Director, Resource Development & Partnerships, The Micronutrient Initiative and began with an opening statement by Georg Kell, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact, who discussed building a case on action, learning and partnerships that focus on the world’s poorest.
Four panel discussions focused on the challenges and opportunities for decreasing nutrition deficiencies worldwide. Key points included:
- Addressing the limited window of opportunity, from pregnancy until two years of age.
- Fortifying foods with five key micronutrients, vitamin A, Iron, Zinc, Folic acid, Iodine for those who are most vulnerable.
- Market-focused strategies and financially sustainable business cases, that go beyond corporate social responsibility.
“The ‘window of opportunity’ for investing in nutrition is very short – from pregnancy until 2 years of age, explained Dr. Meera Shekar, Lead Health & Nutrition Specialist, World Bank. “After this age, the window closes and investments are too late, too little and too expensive.” Bruce Coghill, Head of Nutrition at USAID also outlined USAID’s strategic approach of preventing undernutrition during the window of opportunity and nutrition service delivery for women and young children.
Andreas Bluethner and Claus Soendergaard of BASF’s Food Fortification team delivered a joint presentation “BASF‘s Food-Fortification Engagement at the BoP – Technical and Conceptual Lessons Learned.” They explained that fortification in selected product applications, such as flour, sugar, vegetable oil, milk and yogurt can be cost effective and add value to the Base of Pyramid.
Mr. Venkatesh Mannar, President, Micronutrient Initiative, participated in the third panel focused on Developing Countries and Practitioners Perspective. “We need to be creative in bringing all sectors together and to capitalize on the vast distribution networks, management experience, technologies, research capacity and marketing skills of the private sector to enable improved nutrition for all,” said Mr. Mannar, who also led a moment of silence in commemoration of Prof. C. K. Prahalad, the architect of business models targeted at providing goods and services to the poorest people in the world.
Guest of Honor, Dr. David Nabarro, UN Special Representative for Food Security and Nutrition, concluded the day’s presentations with the Road map for Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN), a program that calls for approaches for direct nutrition-specific interventions (NSIs), and developments to reduce and counteract the devastating effects of under-nutrition – specifically by promoting agriculture and food insecurity to improve the availability, access to and consumption of nutritious foods.
The event sponsors wrapped up the event by reflecting on key learnings and future outcomes. “This platform for idea exchange demonstrated excellent spirit and trust between all stakeholders,” said Dr. Martin Jager, Sr. Vice President BASF Nutrition. “We had the right people in the room who are committed to action.”
Undernutrition is one of the world’s most serious but least addressed health problems and is an underlying factor in one-third of all child deaths. The human and economic costs are enormous, falling hardest on the very poor and on women and children – nearly a third of children in developing countries are undernourished.
“Undernutrition is still a momentous challenge for many of the world’s poor, particularly children,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “At the same time, simple and effective business solutions to this problem are available. The many good examples presented here today show what can be achieved when the resources and innovations of the private sector are leveraged for the greater good.”
Base of Pyramid (BoP) describes the largest, but poorest socio-economic population group of the income pyramid – globally, 4 billion people that live on less than $3000 per year.
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About the Micronutrient Initiative
The Micronutrient Initiative is an Ottawa-based, international not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that the world’s most vulnerable – especially women and children – in developing countries get the vitamins and minerals they need to survive and thrive through supplementation and food fortification programs. Its mission is to develop, implement and monitor innovative, cost effective and sustainable solutions for hidden hunger, in partnership with others. With Canadian support, the organization is saving and improving the lives of 500 million people annually in more than 70 countries with its child survival, child development and women’s health programs. www.micronutrient.org