More than half the world’s population is adversely affected by malnutrition, which undermines economic growth and perpetuates poverty. For this reason, nutrition continues to be high on the international agenda and an important topic of the UN’s Post-2015 Development Agenda.
The Second International Conference on Nutrition, which will take place November 19-21 in Rome, will contribute to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s call for a high degree of policy coherence at global, regional, national and sub-national levels, and a global partnership for development at all levels.
According to Helen Medina, USCIB’s senior director for product policy and innovation, the conference will review progress made towards improving nutrition since 1992, reflect on remaining nutrition problems – as well as on the new challenges and opportunities for improving nutrition presented by changes in the global economy, in food systems, and by advances in science and technology. Participants will seek to identify policy options for improving nutrition.
“While governments can pursue policies to encourage solutions to malnutrition, USCIB continues to point out that the private sector is also an important actor to implementing those policies,” Medina said.
To underscore the importance of the private sector in issues related to nutrition and the agriculture sector in general, Medina was in Rome last week to meet with U.S. and foreign government officials at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The meeting included a discussion with the Committee on Food Security’s Chair, Ambassador Gerda Verburg of the Netherlands. The second day of meetings featured dialogues with 48 different country representatives including the African Regional Group, the Near East Group, Russia, the European Union, Denmark, Iceland, Japan, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Argentina.
As a delegate in these groups, Medina was able to advocate for business and industry participation at the upcoming International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2). She also highlighted that ICN2 should recognize the private sector’s contributions to improved nutrition through innovative products, scientific and technological know-how, and improved production and management practices. USCIB also advocates for the following:
- Developing the economy, including promoting women’s role in the economy, is important.
- The private sector can play a critical role in further strengthening markets, spurring economic growth and improving livelihoods.
In addition to these meetings, Medina delivered a statement on behalf of the private sector on “food waste”. During her intervention on this topic, Medina emphasized that the private sector has an objective to reduce waste in order to reap the greatest potential from limited input resources. In addition, any actions for addressing food waste or loss are directed towards the entire food chain, rather than isolated parts.
Innovation should also be encouraged since innovative technologies or solutions are of value, she said. Global initiatives for addressing food waste or loss should be adapted to local circumstances. Consumers need to be educated about food waste and loss, especially in schools and by government-driven campaigns regarding proper storage and preparation of food, as well as by the interpretation of “best before” and “use by” labels. Governments should encourage private investment and public-private partnerships in improving infrastructure and storage facilities, especially in developing countries. However, this requires an enabling environment for investment.
Finally, Medina emphasized that closer linkages between farmers and processors, particularly in developing countries, must be fostered; thus governments can create a better environment to provide investment in the food industry so that local farmers can address supply chain issues. Meanwhile, ensuring trade and market access is efficient and effective to get food to where it is needed.
USCIB members attending the meeting included McDonald’s and Monsanto.
Staff contact: Helen Medina