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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.

CEOs Start Day by Focusing on Child Malnutrition

A score of CEOs, UN officials and heads of charitable foundations met at 7 am in WFP’s tent at Davos this morning and rolled up their sleeves to review a programme born two years ago in this very tent: Project Laser Beam (PLB) .

PLB is building real solutions to malnutrition among children under two. It is an example of how private-public partnerships can work to make sustainable improvements in peoples’ lives.  It brings the expertise of private sector companies such as Unilever, Kraft and DSM together with the World Food Programme and other partners to focus on eliminating the underlying causes of malnutrition among  young children, initially in Bangladesh and Indonesia. 

Partners are working together to: 1) fortify food with micronutrients to increase children’s dietary intake; 2) improve household food security by increasing cultivation and access to nutritious food; and 3) increase hygiene and parasite control in communities which have, to date, had little outside assistance.

This year, the group discussed what will be needed to maintain progress over the five-year programme, and to make it transferable – ‘plug and play’ – to other countries. The ultimate goal is to get to a place where WFP's work is unnecessary, because communities will be able to sustainably feed themselves.

But the challenges are big and it takes time to show long term results.  “To measurably reduce stunting, for example, can take 15 years. … Nutrition is not like a vaccine. There are many different things that go into good nutrition – the right kinds of food, clean water, sanitation, agricultural development,” said Marc Van Ameringen, Chief Executive Officer of GAIN, the Global Alliance for improved Nutrition.  Project Laser Beam is aiming to deliver all of these.

Authored on 27 January 2011

The Tent In The Snow

With deep snow and temperatures stuck below freezing, the idea of WFP hosting events in a tent at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos might seem like a bizarre idea. But real estate is a prime commodity when world leaders descend upon the tiny mountain village in the Swiss alps, and WFP has long been used to bringing its own offices and food storage space to locations where infrastructure is lacking (admittedly, usually following natural disasters…) – so one of our easy-to-assemble, sturdy warehouses seemed to be the perfect solution.

Thanks to support from WFP’s corporate partner TNT, Mr Van Zadelhoff (founder of real estate company DTZ Zadelhoff) has let us pitch the tent in his parking lot for several years now. From the outside, it’s a 24m by 10m monster of plastic sheeting and aluminium frames (see photo above right, copyright Rein Skullerud). It has the WFP logo on the outside – same as any wickhall we’ve set up in Haiti, Pakistan or Ghana. On the inside, there’s a meeting room, an entrance hall set up to look like an African schoolroom similar to the ones where WFP distributes meals for hungry children.

By now, the tent has become a regular part of the Davos skyline and world leaders are no longer surprised to receive invitations for events or meetings in “the WFP tent”. Even the WEF organisers have now adopted the unusual venue, designating it an official location for event they organise, usually related to the topic of hunger, agriculture or the environment. Notable figures who have passed through the tent over the years have included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Clinton, Annie Lennox, and many more – helping us achieve our objective of getting more and more global leaders and influencers on board in the fight against hunger.

Authored on 26 January 2011

Welcome to Davos!

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum is under way and the WFP team is on the ground, ready to engage with government leaders, CEOs and aid experts.
Here, to get us started, is a quick look at the four events here in Davos that are top-of-mind for us at WFP.

Thurs 27 (am)
The ‘Nutrition Breakfast’ in the WFP tent will involve CEOs from the food industry and beyond. This annual event is a chance for interested parties in the private sector to brainstorm about how they can contribute ideas and knowhow to fighting hunger and malnutrition. The theme this year is “from farm to fork” – how to address malnutrition, at every step along the supply chain.

Thurs 27  (pm)
Scores of CEOs and government leaders are expected to attend an evening discussion on the theme Nourishing People, Invest in the next generation.  In the WFP tent for the event will be President Kagame of Rwanda, Robert Zoellick of the World Bank and the UN Secretary General. Co-hosting the event with WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran is TNT CEO Peter Bakker, who has made WFP's presence at Davos possible for the last six years.

Fri 28 (pm)
Women for Women: Feeding the world. This will be a panel discussion on women helping women to break the cycle of poverty and hunger. It will be co-hosted by Arianna Huffington (of the Huffington Post) and WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, and involve key figures from corporate partners Kraft and Unilever.

Fri 28 (pm)
WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran will chair a plenary session of the World Economic Forum’s meeting  on the subject of ‘raising healthy children’. On the discussion panel will be Dr. Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization; Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of BMG Foundation; Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola; Lars Sorensen, President and CEO of Novo, Nordisk; and Bono, singer of U2 and co-founder of ONE.


Authored on 26 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.