Big commitments made at London nutrition summit

European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs at the Nutrition for Growth, Beating Hunger through Business and Science event in London. The European Union announced €3.5 billion for improving nutrtition in developing countries. Photo by: Will Oliver / European Union

Big commitments were made at the historic nutrition summit that concluded in London on Saturday: More money, technical assistance, innovative ideas and a new global compact that is expected to pave the way for the beginning of the end of under-nutrition.

Several big donors pledged to spend billions on nutrition programs between now and 2020, such as the European Commission (€3.5 billion), the Netherlands ($390 million), the United Kingdom (650 million pounds) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($862.7 million).

Canada will spend $145 million on new initiatives for evidence-based nutrition interventions, while Ireland announced $169 million in additional funds for the cause in the same period.

Other pledges came from World Vision ($1.18 billion), Children’s Investment Fund Foundation ($787 million), Save the Children International ($675 million), World Bank ($600 million) and Concern Worldwide ($116 million). Part of the NGO pledges are included in the $750 million privately raised and committed by InterAction, an alliance of U.S.-based aid organizations.

Business leaders who took part in the event also announced specific commitments aimed at tackling malnutrition.

International law firm Clifford Chance will provide pro bono support through governments, NGOs and other private sector actors, and British company Del Agua announced a 20-year, 430 million pound health program that will provide water filters, high-efficiency cookstoves and training in Rwanda.

TANSEED International said it will support development, production and distribution of nutrition-enhanced seed varieties of quality protein maize, provitamin A biofortified maize and protein-rich soya bean and common beans in the next two years, while global brand Unilever committed to expanding its neonatal handwashing programs in Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Saudi Arabia this year.

Global compact

Almost a hundred governments, donor organizations, U.N. agencies, civil society groups and businesses also signed at the event a Global Nutrition for Growth Compact that gives signatories an impetus to live up to their pledges.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said in his speech: “It’s not the commitments made today that will beat hunger - it’s the way they are followed through tomorrow, and the next day and the day after.”

Under the new deal, signatories commit to the following by 2020:

  • Make nutrition a political and socioeconomic development priority.

  • Progress toward the 6 nutrition targets established at the 65th World Health Assembly.

  • Reach at least 500 million pregnant women and children under two years of age by 2020.

  • Reduce the number of stunted children by 20 million.

  • Save the lives of 1.7 million children under five by increasing exlusive breastfeeding and treatment of severe acute malnutrition.

  • Support the development of programs that integrate nutrition objectives.

  • Improve transparency, monitoring and accountability with regard to nutrition progress and investment results.

Participants agreed to launch an annual report on nutrition that will include resource spending and progress updates starting in 2014, and hold an annual global meeting on nutrition at the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly.

Brazil, which is among the signatories to the new compact, has committed to hold a high-level event on nutrition during the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.