ED Cousin Joins Nutrition Champions In Call For Food-Secure World

WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin with Canadian Development Minister Beverly Oda at the Scaling Up Nutrition briefing in Washington on the eve of the May 18-19 G8 meeting.

(Copyright: WFP/Rene McGuffin)

Boosting nutrition –  especially in the first thousand days of a child’s life – is an attainable, proven, and cost-effective way to move to a more food secure world, said World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin as she joined global leaders for a high-level briefing in Washington D.C. ahead of this weekend’s G8 summit.

"No one person, no one organisation can solve this problem and change the lives of the world’s 170 million hungry children," Cousin said. "It’s about the right partnerships. We have to be willing to create a movement."

Bringing together a whole host of nutrition champions from the U.S. and abroad, the briefing highlighted the critical successes of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement. Some 27 countries participate in the movement that encourages global leaders to invest their nation’s resources into improving nutrition and tackling child malnutrition.

Drawing on her leadership of WFP and the SUN movement, Cousin joined the President of the United Republic of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete, the Canadian Minister of International Cooperation Beverley Oda, and the CEO of Concern Worldwide Tom Arnold for a panel discussion on the economic and development opportunity of boosting nutrition.

Real impact

The panelists praised Tanzania for the work the country has already done in putting nutrition at the top of the agenda and stressed that partnerships with the private sector bring both scale and capacity to transform the promise of nutrition into real impact.

“Partnerships enable us to scale-up programs to make a real difference and sustain agricultural improvements for the long-term,” Cousin said. “It’s not just about how many kids we feed. It’s about how many families we help that have the resilience to face the next crisis.”

Minister Oda encouraged countries to recognize the economic impact of not addressing nutrition and encouraged private sector to help close the gap. “It’s not just about putting food on the table. It’s about putting the right food on the table at the right time,” she said.

In her opening remarks, Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the United States President and Senior Director at the National Security Council, emphasized the importance of nutrition at this year’s G8 summit.

“You can’t separate food security from nutrition. I assure you the G8 will make progress on both of them,” Smith said. “We know that nutrition interventions in the first thousand days of a child’s life boost IQ and GDP. That’s powerful stuff.”