Opening remarks during reception on Canada’s Parliament Hill

Joel Spicer, President and CEO of Nutrition International, acknowledges Canadian support and commitment to improving nutrition for world’s most vulnerable, especially women and girls.

Address by Joel Spicer, Nutrition International President and CEO, to Canadian parliamentarians and guests at event celebrating 25 years of global impact in partnership with Canadians.


Check against delivery.

Welcome everybody – thank you for coming.

And thank you Pam [Damoff], not only for supporting this reception but for your obvious care and compassion, and for seeing some of our projects in the field first hand, and bringing that message home.

Friends – it is an honour to be here with all of you tonight.

We’ve got three main objectives:

  • To mark our anniversary and celebrate 25 years of impact.
  • To share with you our excitement about the evolution of our organization from a Canadian idea called Micronutrient Initiative to a global development organization called Nutrition International.
  • Finally – we want to shine a light on Canada’s leadership in the fight against malnutrition – particularly for women and girls.

I have to start with some very important ‘thank yous’ – we feel enormous gratitude for the architects of our organization – those who came before; for our partners, and for those who contributed to building us into one of the world’s leading global nutrition organizations – who allowed us to dream of making an even bigger difference in the world.

I’m thinking of our colleagues at IDRC.

We began as a small secretariat incubated by IDRC in 1992 and grew up there and became independent in 2001. Our impact is also because of you.

I’m thinking also of the many partners that have joined us tonight – and that we’ve worked with over the years.

Our name is changing, but our strong commitment to working together in partnership is not.

A very special thank you to our international board of directors – who have encouraged us to be bold – to aim for transformative change, not incremental change and to always keep focused on doing the greatest good possible for the people we serve.

You are our greatest strength.  Thank you.

I’m delighted to be here with members of my team representing Nutrition International’s 250+ staff across the globe – you inspire me – our momentum and trajectory are because of your personal and professional commitment.  I’m proud of you.

Finally – thank you Canada! As a country, we have walked the talk when it comes to fighting malnutrition and Nutrition International is one, very tangible example of that commitment and leadership in action.

All Canadians have a right to be proud of that – because Canada’s support matters and it makes a real difference in the world.

So – thank you to parliamentarians of all parties, and particularly to Minister Bibeau – merci beacoup pour votre appui et engagement personelle and for being a true champion for women and girls’ nutrition.

You and your officials are extraordinary on this.

Because of all of you and your support over the past 25 years – our efforts have saved and improved millions of lives – and more recently,

positioned Nutrition International as a leading force on efforts to address malnutrition in women and girls – from evidence to policy to scale.

And this part is critical for the road ahead: malnutrition affects all kinds of people, all around the world – but women and girls especially.

They are all too often pushed down, held back – and kept at the bottom rungs of the economic and social ladder, where poverty, malnutrition and vulnerability combine in a vicious cycle.

In many places in the world today, even when there is food to share, women still eat last and they eat least – and the message that sends to girls is they have less value than boys.

So, for millions of women and girls, malnutrition is a landslide on the road of life – blocking their access to health, education, opportunity and possibility.

It is an unjust and unnecessary tax preventing them from reaching their full power, and the loss of that power and potential hurts all of us.

That’s an unacceptable and unaffordable loss for humanity – and something all of us have to change.

It’s not just a question of improving the health and wellbeing of these women and girls – it’s also about unlocking a massive transformational force for creating good in the world – and one our entire planet desperately needs – now more than ever – if we are going to move forward as one human family.

That’s why at Nutrition International, we’re not only taking stock of what has been accomplished in the past 25 years, we are looking forward to the change we want to see in the world – and we have set an ambitious goal between now and the Sustainable Development Goal deadline:

By 2030, Nutrition International aims to transform the lives of one billion vulnerable people, especially women, adolescent girls and children, by improving their nutritional status.

This goal is aiming at transformation – not incremental – change.

It is our statement of solidarity and commitment to some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and it’s about making a difference, because we believe that nutrition is the difference for so many people.

It’s the difference between attending school and learning

Between giving birth to a child and giving them life.

It’s the difference between fighting a disease and surviving

Between what could be and what never gets the chance.

And so my friends, it is an honour to be here with you to celebrate 25 years of impact – thank you for sharing this journey with us on our road together to make the world a better place.