WFP at the UN General Assembly: Highlights

WFP’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin is in New York this week, taking part in a range of hunger-related events in and around the UN General Assembly. Here are the day-by-day highlights.

Day 4 – Sept 27

1. High-level meeting on Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN).

After helping approve a new SUN strategy document at a meeting of the movement’s lead group, WFP’s Executive Director attended a high-level meeting convened by the Secretary General to examine progress achieved so far. Representatives of the various SUN stakeholders presented results, lessons learned, and futuredirections of the SUN movement. Cousin stressed the importance of concrete, cross-sector actions, supported by an inclusive SUN movement.  Watch the meeting here.

Four UN Agencies Work To Empower Rural Women

woman working in a field

Investing in women farmers could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100 to 150 million people. That was one of many insights which emerged at the launch of a joint project to empower farmers in seven different countries on the sideliens of the UN General Assembly in New York. Learn more

2. Joint Programme for Rural Women Launched

The heads of UN Women and the Rome-based UN agencies, in partnership with the governments of Brazil, Canada, Liberia and the Netherlands,  launched a joint programme called  ‘Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women’. This is a five-year initiative that will focus on improving food and nutrition security, increasing rural women’s incomes, enhancing leadership and participation in rural institutions, and creating a more responsive policy environment at national and international levels. 

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, gave the keynote address at the event, noting that supporting rural women was a priority for her government. Two rural women leaders told their personal stories, showing how much potential can be unlocked when rural women are empowered.  Cousin also moderated a panel discussion with bilateral partners including the private sector. 

3. Photo exhibition “World Hunger — A Solvable Problem” 

The exhibition was opened at a special ceremony by the Secretary General, the Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. The exhibition celebrates the global partnership between the WFP and Saudi Arabia in the fight against hunger. We join our New York team in saluting our fabulous photographers and colleagues around the world who have contributed photos -- they are so talented!  


Day 3 – Sept 26

1. Getting On Track To Prevent Stunting In Children 

Save the Children and World Vision presented their ‘Nutrition Barometer’ during a panel discussion on stunting in children. The Barometer is a new tool to measure governments’ commitment and action on nutrition, developed in the wake of the Hunger Summit held on the closing day of the Olympic Games in London. That summit launched a huge push to end hunger and malnutrition and included measures to prevent stunting in 25 million children under five by the time of the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. WFP Executive

Director Ertharin Cousin, who was on the panel, took the opportunity of to present her vision of the UN network’s role in supporting national and global efforts to reduce undernutrition. 

2. High-Level Meeting On Sahel 

WFP’s head attended a high-level meeting on the Sahel region of West Africa, convened by the UN Secretary General. The meeting focused on the UN integrated strategy for the region to strengthen its capacities to combat insecurity and prevent and respond to large-scale crises. There were numerous references to the need to ensure adequate support for the 18 million people there experiencing a severe food and nutrition crisis.

3. WFP Partnership With DSM In Spotlight

WFP’s Executive Director delivered a keynote speech at a reception organised by WFP corporate partner DSM and Sight of Life to celebrate “100 Years of Vitamins”. Rob Swartbol, Director-General of the Dutch International Cooperation, praised WFP's leadership in assisting the hungry poor. Cousin highlighted the achievements of WFP's partnership with DSM and Dr Klaus Kremer from Sight of Life reaffirmed DSM's commitment to renew the partnership in 2013 for another three years.

4. Meeting On Humanitarian Situation In Syria

Executive Director Cousin spoke at an informal ministerial meeting on the situation in Syria, co-chaired by Jordan and the EU. The meeting opened with the Principals of OCHA, UNHCR, ICRC and WFP presenting an overview of the humanitarian situation. Cousin focused on the issue of access, highlighted WFP’s work in both Syria and all four neighbouring countries currently hosting refugees. She also stressed the importance of support from the global community for humanitarian efforts.  

Day 2 – Sept 25

1. Secretary General Highlights Food Insecurity

General debate began on Tuesday in the UN General Assembly with WFP’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin among the agency heads and world leaders in attendance. In his opening statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined the need to focus greater attention on food security and nutritional resilience.

He added that:  “For millions of people, frequent shocks are the new norm. Food prices are increasingly volatile, provoking public anxiety, panic buying and civil disturbance. We need to bolster safety nets. We must ramp up investments in sustainable agriculture — particularly for smallholder farmers.”

Governments must not impose trade restrictions on grains or other agricultural products, the Secretary General continued, noting that this reduces food supplies and discourages farmers from growing more. “Together, we can avoid the food crises we have seen in recent years and achieve our goal of zero hunger,” he said.

2. WFP Head Moderates Resilience Panel

Executive Director Cousin moderated a panel on “Innovations for Resilient Livelihoods” at an event organised by the Rockefeller Foundation, the UN Foundation and USAID.  The event featured leaders of a global effort to build resilience to recurring shocks for vulnerable populations in a time of climate change, food shortages and resource competition. In her remarks, the EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva thanked WFP for changing the paradigm on food aid through cash programmes. For her part, WFP’s Executive Director emphasised that without private sector engagement, we cannot succeed.

3. SUN and Private Businesses Working Hand-In-Hand. 

The WFP team also followed various other events, including a successful SUN breakfast meeting on “How can business support the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement?” WFP’s head of nutrition, Martin Bloem, participated in the event in which several stakeholders  -- GAIN, the Government of the Netherlands, UNILEVER, 1000 Days Initiative, WFP, Concern Ireland, SCF UK, Yedent Agroprocessing -- discussed the role of partnerships in delivering improved nutrition.

The discussion focused on four important areas: new delivery models to help make nutritious foods available and affordable to the poor; the enabling environment for investment; new sources of finance and new investment models; and the importance of producing nutritious foods for those at the bottom of the pyramid.


Day 1 – Sept 24

1. WFP Joins Better Than Cash Alliance

The Executive Director announced WFP's commitment to the Better than Cash Alliance at its launch today at the Ford Foundation and spoke compellingly about the power of electronic transfers in the lives of the most vulnerable populations using real stories from the field such as our work in Kenya, with Syrian refugees in Turkey, in the West Bank and the Philippines.

The Better than Cash Alliance is a co-initiative by USAID, Visa, Omidyar Network, UNDP, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Ford Foundation and UNCDF. Committed to moving the global community onto electronic payments in place of physical cash, the Alliance will help the world's poorest families join the modern economy and realize the benefits of a more transparent, inclusive, cash-light world. Find out more

2. Second Anniversary of Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves 

Speaking on a panel moderated by the Executive Director of the Alliance, Cousin highlighted the progress made so far, the unique role cookstoves play in humanitarian settings, the interconnecting links to other areas of humanitarian aid and development, including food security, education, safety and environmental degradation. Gulden Turkoz-Cosslett, of UN Women, referenced the upcoming launch of a Programme for Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment, to be run jointly by UN Women and the three Rome-based agencies (WFP, FAO and IFAD). She stressed how it will help improve women’s and children’s lives.

3. Guatemala’s Action on Nutrition in Spotlight

Speaking at a plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative, WFP’s Executive Director congratulated the Government of Guatemala for its commitment to scale up nutrition interventions that will benefit Guatemala’s most vulnerable population. Cousin welcomed the concerted effort of WFP’s Country Office in Guatemala and the support of WFP USA, WFP’s fundraising arm in the United States, towards making this commitment to the 1,000 Days Initiative a reality.