Signed in Berlin: A new venture to fight global hunger

Philanthropist Bill Gates and Dirk Niebel, German federal minister for economic cooperation and development, announced a new partnership in Berlin on Tuesday. Above, they attend last week's annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Photo by: Remy Steinegger / World Economic Forum / CC BY-SA

The German government and Bill Gates have added a new chapter to their collaboration.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, or BMZ, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, together with German and European businesses, are pooling investments worth €80 million ($108 million) to reduce malnutrition around the world.

BMZ has also initiated a process to craft guidelines for cooperation in the agriculture and food sectors, in collaboration with the private sector, civil society groups and partner organizations. The process has the backing of the Gates Foundation, which is eager to create international guidance for responsible marketing and measurable benchmarks that can help evaluate companies in the food and beverage industries, so that the access to nutritional food is improved.

According to Niebel, the projects form part of Germany’s commitment to the G-8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and the global Scaling Up Nutrition initiative.

“That there are 2 billion malnourished people in the world is a scandal,” German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel said Jan. 29 at the initiative’s launch in Berlin. “Malnourishment, particularly in children, causes lasting damage.”

As part of the €80-million initiative, BMZ and a variety of companies — including several that are also part of the German Food Partnership, which was established in June 2012 — will support the production of staple crops such as potatoes and rice and increase the nutritional value of basic food products.

The German aid agency and Gates Foundation have been cooperating on nutrition-sensitive agricultural projects for a while. The two signed a memorandum of understanding in April 2011 to implement projects related to rural development, health, water and sanitation.

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  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.