Today in Ottawa, Venkatesh Mannar, President of the Micronutrient Initiative (MI), and Elisabeth Rasmusson, Assistant Executive Director for Partnership and Governance Services, World Food Programme (WFP), hosted a roundtable to review how the private sector currently supports reducing global hunger and malnutrition as well as how to work more collaboratively in these efforts.
“There is a growing need for the expertise and resources that the private sector can offer in our efforts to tackle global food and nutrition issues,” said Venkatesh Mannar. “Together with my WFP co-host, Elisabeth Rasmusson, we want to thank the many industry representatives who shared their experiences and ideas on how to move forward.”
More than 15 representatives from Canadian and international corporations participated in the roundtable. The roundtable also benefitted from the perspective of senior government representatives from DFATD.
The implications of hunger and malnutrition are far reaching and adversely impact healthcare, education and social welfare systems; drain economic growth potential; and stifle international trade opportunities. Canada, as a long-timer leader in fight to end hunger and improving global nutrition, works to empower countries to sustainably scale up nutrition, through organizations such as MI and WFP.
Canadian and international private sector stakeholders have the skills, global positioning and commitment to innovation needed to address global malnutrition. Opportunities for collaboration – beyond philanthropy – extend into such areas as procurement, distribution, marketing, and service innovation. However, gaps between theory and practice remain. Participants at the roundtable discussed these gaps, along with how best to apply their expertise and resources to improve the lives of vulnerable people and enhance global economies and markets.
“WFP is working with global and Canadian companies on innovative partnerships to end world hunger,” said Elisabeth Rasmusson. “Companies are helping to make WFP better at what we do; through raising funds, engaging employees, and sharing equipment or access to knowledge.”
MI and WFP have a strong history of generating and leveraging private sector partnerships. MI´s successful private-public partnership with Teck, and the Government of Canada, the Zinc Alliance for Child Health (ZACH) initiative, was one of the examples highlighted today as an innovative success that continues to grow. ZACH brings life-saving zinc, along with oral rehydration salts, to children affected by diarrhoeal disease in developing nations.
WFP works with international partners such as Royal DSM, which helps to improve the nutritional quality of WFP´s “food basket”. This partnership aims to double the number of people who benefit from improved nutrition, from the current annual reach of 15 million to 25-30 million per year by 2015. DSM developed micronutrient powders and fortified rice, and improved the formula of WFP´s highly nutritious Super Cereal and Super Cereal Plus. Micronutrient powders are present in WFP school meal programs in 16 countries thanks to the partnership with Royal DSM.
“Today, we brought together industry, civil society and government experts to look at the economic, social and environmental considerations that will increase success on the ground in developing countries,” said Mannar. “We are encouraged by the interest shown in our request to look beyond the skill set of individual organizations and to work collaboratively to find sustainable solutions.”