The numbers are staggering. Hunger and undernutrition are persistent and unacceptable human tragedies that cause and perpetuate poverty and have huge social and economic costs. Yet, preventing malnutrition is one of the most efficient development interventions: malnutrition prevention programs deliver $16 in returns on investment for every $1 spent.
The case for improving food security and nutrition is clear; the challenge comes in accomplishing it and progress has been too slow.
Is it the lack of political will?
At the international level, it is difficult to ignore the significant focus placed in recent years on issues relating to agriculture, food security and nutrition. From the establishment of the Zero Hunger Challenge, as Ban Ki-moon’s personal commitment to these issues; to the long negotiations that led to SDG2 Ending Hunger as a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal; to the International Conference on Nutrition last year and the inclusion of nutrition in the work streams of the UN Committee on World Food Security and finally the recent declaration of the Decade on Nutrition
Our political leaders seem to have understood that we cannot secure sustainable development until we address the persistent food and nutrition challenges undermining opportunities for the planet’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
The EDD session explored innovative strategies that support global, regional and national initiatives for accelerating progress to end hunger and undernutrition.
4 leading experts on agriculture and nutrition attended, ranging from international agronomic research to civil society organizations. The experts demonstrated how they are working towards ending hunger and undernutrition. These experts included:
- Shenggen Fan, Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
- Till Wahnbaeck, CEO of Welthungerhilfe
- Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)
- Connell Foley, Director of Strategy, Advocacy and Learning, Concern Worldwide
It was agreed that there is a need to develop innovations in the delivery of known interventions and the session explored experiences to achieve development impact fast and among the hardest to reach populations.
The panelists highlighted the importance of linking country experiences with the international SDG agenda. They demonstrated the specific needs of fragile states and countries in protracted crisis and shared some best practices in development to better target development investments (technology, market-based approaches, value-chain approaches, ICTs).
When we work together, our collective impact can achieve the changes needed to sustainably transform lives, communities, and the future. To achieve optimal impact, coordinated decisions across multiple sectors of society must be informed by the best knowledge available on action and implementation.
Eradicating malnutrition requires perseverance from all of us.