Global leaders gathered to discuss how progress to end hunger and undernutrition by 2025 can be accelerated and sustained during a special event convened by Compact2025 in Washington, D.C. on October 6, 2016. The event featured six members of the Compact2025 Leadership Council.
Shenggen Fan, director general of IFPRI, opened the event with an overview of Compact2025’s main roles—to engage at the country-level, stimulate knowledge and innovation, and support other initiatives working to address hunger and undernutrition.
In the keynote address, Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), highlighted the “cruel paradox” that many families that feed the world on small farms are the ones who go hungry. He raised key questions for national governments and development organizations to consider as they seek to scale up interventions to end hunger: “Are we paying enough attention to smallholders? Are we engaging them in finding solutions to end hunger and undernutrition? And if not, why not?” Noting that support for smallholders lays the foundation for a world free from hunger, Nwanze proposed four value propositions for accelerating progress toward this goal: 1) Build inclusive “public-private-producer partnerships” that involve smallholders; 2) Invest in rural infrastructure including storage facilities, roads, energy, and social services; 3) Create inclusive policies from community to national levels to enable vulnerable groups to participate; 4) Improve measurement of results to account not just for higher yields but also for reduced poverty, improved nutrition, and healthy ecosystems.
Following the keynote address, three panelists provided their perspectives on how to accelerate actions to end hunger and undernutrition, and how to sustain activities that are already in place to achieve these goals. The panel was moderated by Catherine Bertini, Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC, shared the experience of one of the world’s largest NGOs in developing a multisectoral program targeted to the ultra-poor in Bangladesh, which has now graduated 1.5 million families out of extreme poverty and has been piloted in 10 countries around the world. Abed emphasized that “It is the poor themselves who do the hard work of getting themselves out of poverty. We want to create the enabling conditions for them to do so.” The experience of BRAC has shown that these enabling conditions include a comprehensive set of services including asset transfers, stipends, childhood education, and training and coaching for participants.
Wolfgang Jamann, Secretary General and CEO of CARE International, reflected on the policies and systems required to accelerate progress to end hunger and undernutrition. Drawing on the work of CARE International, he encouraged policymakers and development practitioners to use the acronym “SUPER” as they implement plans and activities to eliminate hunger and undernutrition: Sustainable (ecologically and socially); Productive and Profitable; Equitable; and Resilient. He emphasized that scaled up investment in nutrition is required if we are to end hunger and undernutrition by 2025, noting that “Nutrition is not just to be addressed through nutrition-specific interventions but through much more holistic and comprehensive approaches… and those investments around nutrition must target those populations who are most in need.”
Kathy Spahn, President and CEO of Helen Keller International, called for a lens shift from the costs of malnutrition to the benefits of investing in nutrition. She noted that “Just as hunger and undernutrition are markers of poverty, ending hunger and undernutrition are markers and makers of prosperity.” Spahn emphasized the need to not only get more money for nutrition, but also to get more nutrition for the money that is invested, through high quality national action plans, investments in multisectoral interventions using existing resources, prioritization of at-risk communities, and inclusive partnerships and engagement with the private sector. She also called for investment in monitoring and evaluation, particularly for indicators that work across sectors and for measuring whether services are reaching those who need them most at the right time.
All three panelists noted that major agreements and global events including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris climate change agreement, and the Second International Conference on Nutrition have created a window of opportunity for action to be accelerated to end hunger and undernutrition. The time is ripe for these agreements to be put into action and to take advantage of the current momentum to create a world free from hunger and undernutrition.
Prepared by Laura Zseleczky and Chris Rue