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WFP's message at Davos was that good nutrition is an investment. It’s an investment in the next generation of the world's inhabitants and it should begin in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. WFP went to Davos to talk with business and government leaders about innovative solutions to hunger. Browse through this blog to get an idea of what emerged.

Here Comes The Private Sector!

Key figures in the world of humanitarian aid and development were talking at Davos about how critical the private sector is when it comes to doing interesting and innovative development work, according to Nancy Roman, WFP's Director of Communications and Private-Sector Partnerships.

"That never would have happened five years ago," Roman added, as she spoke to WFP.org about her impressions of the event and about the growing involvement of business in humanitarian aid.

Listen to the podcast here.


Authored on 2 February 2011

"Make women the focus of our work in Africa"

Perry Yeatman, senior vice president of Kraft Foods, gives her thoughts on the "power of women" in the fight against hunger and recalls a popular American saying: "If you want to get a job done, give it to a busy woman".

Yeatman was one of 15 women from the worlds of business, politics and aid who gathered in the WFP tent on Friday to find innovative approaches to helping women fight hunger. WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said several new ideas emerged from the conversation and promised to hold another such meeting next year (see post below).

Authored on 29 January 2011

"We need nutritional products for pregnant women"

Barbara Stocking, CEO of Oxfam GB, gives her impressions after brainstorming with other women leaders about how best to help women in the developing world to ensure their families get the food and nutrition they need.

Stocking was one of 15 women from the worlds of business, politics and aid who gathered in the WFP tent on Friday to find innovative approaches to helping women fight hunger. WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said several new ideas emerged from the conversation and promised to hold another such meeting next year (see post below).

Authored on 29 January 2011

Women 4 Women at Davos

Fifteen women leaders, including executives from Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, Bank of America,  brainstormed on Friday about how to improve the food security of women in the developing world.Naturally, by talking about the food security of women they were also talking about the food security of millions of families in the developing world.

Nancy Roman, WFP's Director of Private Sector Partnerships, kicked off the event, providing a backdrop on the challenges that hungry women face, and describing the area where women business leaders can make a difference.

Here are some of the points made by the three discussion groups:

1) “Women’s empowerment equals healthier children,” said Wendy Clark, senior vice-president of the Coca-Cola Company (see photo left). Her discussion group recommended that organizations such as WFP engage successful women in business and technology as “Women champions of innovation” and that while support to women is key,  men should also be encouraged to participate in the success and advancement of their daughters.

2) “It’s not important just to be sure you are getting enough calories, but that they are the right kind of calories,” said Perry Yeatman, Senior Vice-President at Kraft Foods, who spoke for the group that discussed ways to support pregnant and breastfeeding women. They found that information about nutrition and access to nutritious food products were major priorities and suggested delivering information via mobile phone messages, development of special-purpose food products for pregnant women, and mobilizing pregnant women in the developed world who want to help pregnant women in developing countries.

3) Cherie Blair, head of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, said women farmers could benefit from innovative use of electronic vouchers that deliver assistance via credit on people’s mobile SIM cards.  WFP has already launched a pilot programme of phone-based vouchers in Syria, where recipients can go to participating shops and buy food items using credit on their mobile phones. The same phones, said Ms Blair, could be used to provide women farmers with financial support, market information, advice about planting their crops and ways to connect with other women farmers.

“This is the first year we have done this kind of event at Davos and we plan to do it each year,” said Josette Sheeran, WFP’s Executive Director, at the end of the Women 4 Women event held in the WFP tent.  “I literally have goose-bumps. Some of the ideas we heard here have not been discussed before.”

(Photos copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud)

Authored on 29 January 2011

WFP Head Leads Davos Debate On Raising Healthy Children

U2 singer Bono, co-founder of ONE and of the RED campaign, was asked this afternoon to rate the progress that had been made in child health in recent years. He gave the world a mark of 6 out of 10.

“People dismiss events like the World Economic Forum as ‘talk shops’,” he said, “but actually as a result of the initiatives born here since 2004, about 6,000 children’s lives are saved every single day. That’s pretty good news at a time when there’s not much good news around.”

Bono’s endorsement of Davos came during a plenary session chaired by WFP’s Executive Director Josette Sheeran.  The question she put the panel of experts was: How can we raise healthy children in today’s world, when we face the double burden of undernourishment and overnourishment?

Good nutrition, vaccines, bed nets and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, was the answer provided by Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organisation.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation emphasised the need to invest in women, who are the key to building healthy families, and also vaccines, which she described as “miracle technology which we in the developed world take for granted”.

Sheeran asked the CEO of Coca-Cola, Muhtar Kent, how the private sector can help accelerate the impact of the solutions outlined. Kent pointed to deep-rooted partnerships with civil society and governments to innovate with an impact as the key answer.

The panel then went on to tackle the “elephant in the room” issue, as Bono described it, of how to maintain the momentum on these interventions at a time of recession and aid budget cuts.

Chan reminded listeners that the cuts in social services such as health and education during the recession of the 1970s is still making its negative consequences felt today, while Gates pointed to innovations brought about by the private sector to make aid dollars go further through increased efficiencies.

In conclusion, Sheeran pointed out that we now carry the “burden of knowledge”, in that we know about the irreversible damage done to children’s development if they are not given a chance of a healthy start in life, and we also know which interventions are necessary to prevent this. Armed with this knowledge, and fully aware of the financial and social costs of the failure to do so, we have no excuse not to take on responsibility for raising healthy children.


Authored on 28 January 2011

Snapshots from the WFP tent

Here's a selection of snapshots showing some of the people who came to WFP's tent at Davos to discuss innovative ways of fighting hunger.

View photo gallery


Authored on 28 January 2011

How the WFP-TNT partnership began

“Life is full of coincidences,” says Peter Bakker, who  ten years ago was still a senior executive at TNT, not yet the CEO. His first interview for that job took place on September 11, 2001, at exactly the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.  “When we left the room, it seemed like whole world was on fire.”

A few weeks later, as the company’s new CEO, he flew to Sydney, Australia on a business trip. With nearly 24 hours of flying time, he had plenty of time to brainstorm about ways that the company could contribute to making the world a better place.  He came up with an idea to help “distribute health and wealth” to poor people throughout the world.

After researching the idea and several organizations, TNT approached WFP to work together. It was a natural fit. WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, delivering millions of tons of food to feed about 90 million people in 70 countries around the world each year. TNT is a commercial transport and logistics company serving  more than 200 countries and employing around 161,500 people.

With such a large and diverse company, Bakker was searching for a unifying mission for his staff. He says the partnership between WFP and TNT has energized his employees, increased loyalty and served to attract creative and dedicated people who want to work for a company that was involved in corporate social responsibility before the term “CSR” had become popular.

TNT has a staff competition to come up with creative ways to help WFP. One staff member suggested the company start a sponsored event called “Walk the World” which has mobilized more than 1.2 million people to participate, providing school meals to 120,000 children over the past 8 years, also  with support of other partners Unilever and DSM. Another year, a staff member suggested TNT invite WFP to the World Economic Forum at Davos. Thus, WFP’s “Davos Tent” was born.


Authored on 28 January 2011

How TNT has helped WFP fight hunger

Last night UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that Peter Bakker, CEO of  global transport giant TNT, is to be a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger (see previous post).

"As a business leader and CEO at TNT, Peter Bakker has been a tireless campaigner for the world’s hungry.  He has set a gold standard that others have followed, demonstrating the transformational power of partnerships between the private sector and the humanitarian world," said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran today. Read statement

Here’s a quick look at some of the ways TNT has supported WFP’s fight against hunger.

1)    TNT has been a WFP private sector partner since 2003. Since then TNT has given $83 million in support to WFP, including cash, in-kind contributions such as air lifts, staff deployed to the field, advocacy and support at major events like Davos.

2)    TNT’s employees around the world have raised $22 million for school feeding all on their own steam, in hundreds of creative ways – through sponsored events such as “Walk the World”, bake sales, producing a cookbook and sponsored fun-runs.

3)    The company has deployed 12 airplanes to delivery emergency food in Haiti, Pakistan and Philippines, and 67 TNT staff have been trained to perform highly-qualified tasks within the Logistics Emergency Team.

(Photo copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud)

Authored on 28 January 2011

Leaders focus on rising food prices, opportunities for women

There was very little ‘small talk’ around the table at the annual leaders’ dinner in the WFP tent at Davos on Thursday evening. About 70 heads of industry, politics, academia and international organizations dived straight into the big issues of the day: high global food prices, export bans on agriculture, improving nutrition for children under age two and the role of women in boosting food security.
Everyone needs to work together in the fight against hunger, said WFP’s Executive Director Josette Sheeran, who led the discussion.  “I know from experience that we simply cannot do this alone. From Haiti to Pakistan to the Philippines, when disaster strikes, we need the private sector’s support, their innovation, their nutritious food products, their logistics support.” 

The need to create opportunities for women to take part in their national economies was a strong theme in the conversation that followed. 

“Women are 53 per cent of our population. If you don’t deal with the problems of that 53 per cent; if they are not fully integrated – then you are part of the problem,” said Rwandan President Paul Kagame (see photo top right, with Josette Sheeran and UN Secretary General ban Ki-moon copyright WFP/Rein Skullerud). Rwanda is noted for having 56 per cent women in its parliament.

President Kagame also called for more agricultural development and support for farmers in Africa,  noting that a majority of arable land remains uncultivated.  

High food prices

Robert Zoellick, the President of the World Bank, outlined the actions needed to combat  the impact of the current rise in global food prices, including improved social safety nets: “We need more of a focus on the most vulnerable, such as children during their first 1000 days -- from conception to two years -- and on pregnant and lactating mothers.” 

Zoellick also called for better long-range weather forecasting to  improve agricultural outputs,  more transparency about global food reserves and the possible establishment of special grain reserves in vulnerable areas, and the exclusion of humanitarian food from commodity export bans.

UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon called on the private sector to “do even more” to help find solutions to global issues. He then announced that the newest WFP “Ambassador Against Hunger” will be Peter Bakker, CEO of  TNT, the global transport giant and WFP private sector partner since 2003.

“Thank you for this incredible honour. I’m here because it is not acceptable that every six seconds a child dies of hunger. All of you in this room have influence: I call on all of you here to use your influence to help end this tragedy,” said Mr. Bakker. Read statement by WFP Executive Director


Authored on 28 January 2011

Progress On Hunger Due To G-20/G-8 Or Business?

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran was part of an interesting debate about global leadership hosted by BBC World at Davos this afternoon. Sheeran’s question was as follows:

In the past 20 years hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of hunger and poverty – in Brazil, in China, in India, Ghana, Vietnam, Chile and other countries.  How much was due to the leadership of the G-20, G-8 and the global architecture and how much was due to social entrepreneurs on the ground in these countries?

Here are excerpts from the answers that followed:

Christine Lagarde, Minister of Finance, France
“The numbers show lots of people have been lifted out of poverty. It is the result of social entrepreneurship on the ground but also the result of much more trade, much more movement of goods and services and capital around the planet.”
“China has played a large part with its membership in the WTO and agreement to remove some barriers to trade.”

Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations
“Internationally, governments can set the context in which individuals, the private sector and so forth can flourish. The WTO is one of the most important drivers of international development we have.”

Victor Chu, CEO, First Eastern Investment Group
 “Globalization in trade has done a lot of good in the last 20 years. But it’s a process that we need to sustain. The danger is that we are bogged down in the next stage of liberalisation.”


Authored on 27 January 2011

About Davos

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, often referred to simply as Davos after the Swiss town where it is held, is attended by leaders from industry, government and civil society. It’s a forum where leaders can talk about the difficult challenges facing the world and discuss ways to address them.