BASF, the Micronutrient Initiative, and the UN Global Compact hosted event to address malnutrition for the world’s poorest

Top Quote Leaders from the private sector and international developmental agencies join to develop partnerships that tackle micronutrient deficiencies. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) November 20, 2010 - MicronutrientBASF, the Initiative, and the UN Global Compact hosted “Addressing Malnutrition at the Base of Pyramid (BoP),” a Technical Partnership Dialogue on November 8-9 at the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel in New York City. The event fostered discussion among nutrition stakeholders to raise awareness, create a learning platform and initiate programs that address hunger and malnutrition worldwide. Close to 100 nutrition experts from the private sector and international developmental agencies attended. Panelists and presenters from the World Bank, UNICEF, USAID, GAIN, Maplecroft, Indonesian Coalition for Fortification, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, and Banner, participated in discussions and question & answer sessions that focused on partnership ideas for scaling up nutrition.

    The program was facilitated by Evelyne Guindon, Director, Resource Development & Partnerships, The Micronutrient Initiative and began with an opening statement by Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, who discussed building a case on action, learning and partnerships that focus on the world’s poorest.

    Four panel discussions focused on the challenges and opportunities for decreasing malnutrition worldwide. Key points included:

    There is limited opportunity, from pregnancy until two years of age, to make a positive impact on a child’s health through nutrition. If we miss that window of opportunity, the damage is irreversible.

    Fortifying foods with five key micronutrients including vitamin A, Iron, Zinc, Folic acid, and Iodine will have the most impact for those who are most vulnerable.

    To benefit those at the BoP for the long term, strategies must be part of market-focused and financially sustainable business cases, rather than just a part of a corporate social responsibility strategy.

    Andreas Bluethner and Claus Soendergaard of BASF’s Food Fortification Team delivered a joint presentation “BASF‘s Food Fortification Engagement at the BoP - Technical and Conceptual Lessons Learned.” They explained that fortification in selected product applications, such as flour, sugar, vegetable oil, and milk products can be cost effective and add value to the BoP. In addition, they presented a documentary film featuring the public-private partnership success story of food fortification in El Salvador.

    Mr. Venkatesh Mannar, President, Micronutrient Initiative, participated in the third panel, which focused on ‘Developing Countries and Practitioner’s Perspective’. “We need to be creative in bringing all sectors together and to capitalize on the vast distribution networks, management experience, technologies, research capacity and marketing skills of the private sector to enable improved nutrition for all,” said Mr. Mannar.

    Guest of Honor, Dr. David Nabarro, UN Special Representative for Food Security and Nutrition, concluded the day’s presentations with the Road map for Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN), a program that calls for approaches for direct nutrition-specific interventions (NSIs), and developments to reduce and counteract the devastating effects of under-nutrition – specifically by promoting agriculture and food security to improve the availability, access to and consumption of nutritious foods.

    The event sponsors wrapped up the event by reflecting on the key learnings and future outcomes. “This platform for idea exchange demonstrated excellent spirit and trust between all stakeholders,” said Dr. Martin Jager, Sr. Vice President BASF Nutrition. “We had the right people in the room who are committed to action.” Dr. Jager committed to add further resources to BASF’s food fortification activities in Asia and to organize similar events every two years.

    Malnutrition is one of the world’s most serious but least addressed health problems and is an underlying factor in one-third of all child deaths. The human and economic costs are enormous, falling hardest on the very poor and on women and children – nearly a third of children in developing countries are undernourished. Base of Pyramid (BoP) describes the largest, but poorest socio-economic population group of the income pyramid - globally, four billion people that live on less than $3000 per year.

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