A week ago, against the backdrop of the Olympics, I witnessed history. I was there not for the Games, but for the Global Hunger Event, which was co-hosted by U.K. Prime Minister Cameron and Brazil Vice President Temer.
The event brought civil society and private sector partners together with leaders from across the globe—and even a few Olympic heroes including in incomparable Mo Farah—to commit to championing for change against global hunger.
At the top of the list of priorities that emerged: Making significant gains against undernutrition before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Just as is true for Olympians to be at their best, we know that adequate nutrition—especially in the critical 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday—is key to a healthy, productive life. However, two billion people in the world, including nearly 200 million children under 5 years of age, suffer from undernutrition and its irreversible effects.
The good news? We can change this. And we are already taking the steps needed to do so.
Through Feed the Future, we support countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur inclusive economic growth that increases incomes and reduces hunger and poverty. We are integrating nutrition and agriculture programs, and have set ambitious targets that contribute to the World Health Assembly’s new global goal to reduce the number of stunted children by 40 percent by 2025.
If it sounds like a big undertaking, it is. We have the know-how and tools to make a difference. But we can’t do this work alone. We need strong global partnerships to champion that our generation’s legacy should include the not “heroic,” but simply “human,” act of ending huger.
It’s why we work with partners like Pepsi, HarvestPlus, DSM, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition to foster private sector-led innovation and public-private partnerships that can strengthen agriculture value, spur productivity, and develop more nutritious foods that are accessible to the poor. And we know that our civil society and NGO partners are critical to making this a reality.
That spirit of partnership is what drives the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which was announced by President Obama just prior to the G8 Summit this year. A commitment by G8 nations, African partner countries and private sector partners to support agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa, the New Alliance aims to lift 50 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa out of poverty in the next 10 years.
What I realized at the Global Hunger Event was that the momentum we’ve all created—through Feed the Future, the New Alliance, and this event—is real. Next year, the G8 presidency will transition from the United States to our friends in the United Kingdom, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that food security and nutrition, as evidenced by the Global Hunger Event, will continue to be a clear priority.
In the days ahead, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania will host workshops to kick off New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition Cooperation Frameworks. These workshops will bring host-country government partners, African and G8 country government officials, international donors, private sector partners, and civil society groups together to focus on the implementation of actions to accelerate country plans and priorities for improved food security and nutrition.
The fact that so many leaders from so many sectors are committed and working together toward a common goal is groundbreaking. It is the stuff of history. In our day-to-day routine, it’s easy to get caught up in the details and miss the big picture: We’re making progress on incredibly urgent and important issues like hunger, poverty and undernutrition.
If we all continue to champion these efforts, and work alongside our colleagues, partners, and heroes to fight hunger, what will our legacy be?