Introduction to the Conference on Building Business Contributions for the 2020 Global Nutrition Summit in Japan


The Hague, 8 July 2019 - 

Colleagues, I am delighted, on behalf of Inge Kauer and myself, Lawrence Haddad, to welcome you to this conference. This is a working conference with diverse participation from government, civil society and business organisations. We are here to develop - together - recommendations for the Government of Japan about the contributions businesses could, and should, make to the Global Summit of 2020 and what the rest of us can do to support that.

The 2020 Summit in Japan is a follow up to the Nutrition for Growth Summit in London in 2013. When we look back on the promises made in London, we have done a pretty good job of meeting them. Donors met their financial commitments two years ahead of time and several governments have increased funding for nutrition. Although some businesses played active roles and made strong commitments, businesses are largely absent from the narrative of accomplishments.  
 
Why is this? Well, many believe that there just wasn’t the time, the understanding or the willingness to engage with businesses in the run up to the London meeting.  
 
None of these conditions hold this time around - we have nine months to develop SMART business commitments, we have a much better idea of the contributions businesses can make, and there is a realisation that while business is a part of the problem, it has to be a big part of the solution.   
 
Given this changed landscape we have a serious responsibility to make businesses a big part of the story we tell about the Japan Summit as we move to 2030.  And it starts here.  

Hands holding bowl of tomatoes

We have nine months to develop SMART business commitments, we have a much better idea of the contributions businesses can make, and there is a realization that while business is a part of the problem, it has to be a big part of the solution. © GAIN  

Unfortunately, the story we will tell about 2030 is not guaranteed a happy ending. There have been big successes in getting stunting rates down - Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana and Vietnam all come to mind - but wasting and anaemia rates are declining very slowly and rates of overweight and obesity are increasing nearly everywhere.   
 
It pains me to say it, but we are struggling in the race to 2030.  
 
So, we clearly have a motive for a more substantive engagement with business: we need all corners of society - government, business, civil society, and science - to come together to end malnutrition faster.   
 
But do we have the means and the opportunity?  

Given this changed landscape we have a serious responsibility to make businesses a big part of the story we tell about the Japan Summit as we move to 2030. And it starts here.  

On the means, the partner organisations here today have shown the way - our meeting hosts, the Government of the Netherlands, supported by the Netherlands Working Group on International Nutrition, with the Dutch Diamond approach; our Summit hosts, the Government of Japan with the Nutrition Public Private Platform; the World Business Council for Sustainable Development with its FReSH platform; DFID with its private sector expertise; FAO and its support to small and medium enterprises; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with their work on the private sector and nutrition; the Access to Nutrition Foundation with its leading work on business accountability and investor strategies; and GAIN, with our work bringing government and business together to do good things for nutrition - things that neither could do on their own.   

We have also had very strong participation from the private sector in the preparations. From leading global and regional business associations, such as WBCSD who I have already mentioned, the Consumer Goods Forum, the International Food and Beverage Alliance, Food Industry Asia - as well as the Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network with its roots in the small and medium companies in high burden countries. We have over 60 senior business representatives here. 

We need all corners of society - government, business, civil society, and science - to come together to end malnutrition faster.

On the opportunity, the Japan summit is likely to be best shot we will have for the next 5-10 years.  The brilliant vision of the hosts, the Government of Japan, gives us a real chance to show how the public and private worlds can work together to advance nutrition within food systems. Our meeting here will help us shape that opportunity to really supercharge the race to 2030. 
 
And we need that boost, because we are playing catch up. It is good that we have powerful new runners in the race to 2030: from the climate and environment worlds, from the non-communicable disease world, and from the responsible business world. But even in a race with powerful new runners, we will only accelerate if we form teams, stay in lane, and pass the baton well.  
 
And why might businesses even want to get involved in this race? By making universal health coverage a focus of the Summit, Prime Minister Abe has cemented the critical path from food to nutrition to health. And the leading edge businesses know that the drive for healthy eating has moved from a ripple to a swell and will become a tidal wave. They want to know who would like to partner with them.  The cautious optimists in the private sector also hear the building roar of the tidal wave and want to know when and how to engage. Finally, the sceptics in the private sector will want to know “Why even bother?”. The meeting will have answers for all of them.  
 
Inge and I are calling for two things from all of you. First we are calling for your commitment to work together. Real change comes when we commit to work with people we do not always agree with, trust or even like. Second, we are calling for you to work together with a purpose - the purpose is to build SMART business commitments for Japan - ones that will advance nutrition outcomes.  
 
Before I close, a couple of housekeeping notes. GAIN and ATNF were asked by DFID and FAO, who co-lead the preparatory group on food systems for the Summit to arrange this meeting. Inge and I plan to summarise the results at the end and get your further input before we send the recommendations to the Government of Japan at a meeting taking place in mid-July.  

Colleagues, I leave you with this final thought. Today, exactly 99 years ago, the International Court of Justice was placed in The Hague. At its most fundamental, malnutrition is about injustice. Those most affected by malnutrition are forgotten, are defenceless, and are without recourse. We are here today near The Hague, because we will commit to work for -and with- those who are malnourished, to help them amplify their voice, protect their interests, and press for action.  For their cause is our cause: to end malnutrition, for all, by 2030.  
 
We can do it, but only if we work together.   
 
Thank you. 

Feedback

feedback

We greatly value your feedback

Overall impression of our website
Did you find what you were looking for?