At the Spotlight on Nutrition: Unlocking Human Potential and Economic Growth event, co-hosted by the World Bank and DFID, a panel of ministers and global leaders laid out how their countries and organizations plan to take action to scale-up action on nutrition.
In his opening remarks, WBG President Jim Yong Kim emphasized that for countries to prosper they will need to invest in human capital, not just hard infrastructure. For $10 per year/child we can prevent stunting, get a return of investment up to $35 for every dollar invested, and bring US$420 billion worth of economic benefits; Dr. Kim called the failure to act unconscionable. He cited the successes of Senegal, Peru and Bangladesh as proof of what countries can accomplish and what is needed: urgency, political commitment, and focused plans with resources.
Mark Lowcock, DFID’s Permanent Secretary, spoke about DFID’s commitment to match private investments to the Power of Nutrition, an innovative financing facility that multiplies new financing for nutrition by leveraging grants and IDA contributions.
Speaking via video message, Melinda Gates said that if the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation could “wave a magic wand and solve any problem we would end malnutrition” because of its affects across all development issues.
Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, highlighted her country’s increasing focus and commitment on nutrition through a multi-pronged approach, from increasing locally-available fortified foods to addressing cultural habits.
Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Trusts, spoke about how the private sector can help to address malnutrition, through innovative work such as double fortification of salt, with both iodine and iron, to increase consumption of micronutrients, while ensuring availability and affordability for all Indians.
Julio Hector Estrada, Minister of Public Finance of Guatemala, shared how his country has put the fight against chronic malnutrition on the national agenda, not just addressing the poorest but across all wealth quintiles and through a focused strategy, with President Morales’s ambitious goal of reducing malnutrition by 10% in 4 years.
Speakers from the floor, donors, civil society representatives, parliamentarians, and UN agencies addressed concerns over tracking and accountability of investments, ensuring multi-sectorality, and coordination among governments and civil society.
Yvonne Chaka Chaka, renowned singer and humanitarian with The Princess of Africa Foundation, closed the panel with a clear to call to action to “do what needs to be done – action and results.”