UN World Food Programme

Davos: CEOs brainstorm with WFP on nutrition

CEO’s arrived at early today at the WFP Tent in Davos – for a day focused on fighting under-nutrition for children two years old and younger.

CEO’s arrived at early today at the WFP Tent in Davos – for a day focused on fighting under-nutrition for children two years old and younger.

By 7.30 am twenty top executives from industries such as food production, transport and health services were deep in discussion on ways that the private sector can come together to help the World Food Programme provide the most nutritious food possible – both in places suffering from chronic hunger and in emergencies such as Haiti.

At 10 am, Executive Director Josette Sheeran opened WFP’s Nutrition Summit, when leaders from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and the UN – all of them already interested in the topic -- conducted an intense brainstorming session on what it will take to put under-nutrition among children 0-2 years on the top of the agenda.

Participants agreed that often small children and their mothers are forgotten during a crisis. Finding appropriate, locally-produced, nutritious foods for babies and toddlers is difficult – especially in a crisis. But young children are among the most vulnerable, as malnutrition can leave them permanently stunted, both physically and intellectually.

“One of the biggest problems we have is people don’t know that we have this need,” said Nancy Roman, WFP’s Head of Communication, Public Policy and Private Partnerships. “People don’t know that in Haiti we have parents chewing up High Energy Biscuits to feed to their (under 2) children, because there is nothing superior out there.”

Simon Maxwell of the Overseas Development Institute said the leaders in the room must help change the “political culture around malnutrition” in some countries, where politicians and leaders in society appear prepared to accept high levels of malnutrition among the child population.  When governments invest in nutrition, it creates a long-term benefit to a country’s economy, he said.