World Leaders Make the Case for Investing in Nutrition

Credit: Paul Morigi/AP

On April 17, global development leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. to lay out the research from a new groundbreaking study that gives policymakers and advocates a roadmap for how the world can accelerate progress against malnutrition.

Bill Gates – co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – delivered the event’s keynote address, highlighting the important role of nutrition in building healthier, more prosperous communities.

“This issue affects everything about child development. And it even affects everything about education and economic development,” said Gates.  He went on to say that if he had one magic power to solve the world’s challenges, nutrition would be that power. “Nutrition belongs at the top of the list.”

Credit: Paul Morigi/AP

Caption (left to right): Kate Hampton of Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Keith Hansen of the World Bank, Bill Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Marie-Claude Bibeau of Canada. 

Yet, nutrition programs are woefully underfunded. For every dollar spent on health, developing countries devote less than one half a penny for nutrition. For overseas development aid, it is less than one penny per dollar.

“The world now needs $7 billion additional per year for the next decade to achieve the nutrition targets,” said Keith Hansen, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank. “I want to remind you, that between the time that you sat down today and midnight tonight the world will invest $1 billion in agriculture subsidies in the rich countries and in fossil fuel subsidies around the world. And by lunch on Wednesday we will have spent $7 billion on those sorts of things.”

Caption (left to right): International journalist Femi Oke, Akin Adesina of the African Development Bank, Marie-Claude Bibeau of Canada, Ariela Luna of Peru. Credit: Paul Morigi/AP
Credit: Paul Morigi/AP

Caption (left to right): International journalist Femi Oke, Akin Adesina of the African Development Bank, Marie-Claude Bibeau of Canada, Ariela Luna of Peru.

Speakers underscored the connection between investing in nutrition and economic growth.

“The greatest contributor to economic growth is not necessarily fiscal infrastructure but brainpower,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

Want to hear more? Check out the videos from the event to learn more about how this investment framework charts a roadmap for tackling malnutrition.

This event – and the new findings – make it very clear that the world cannot afford to wait any longer to prioritize nutrition. World leaders must make the proper investment in nutrition.

As Gates pointed out: “While progress is possible, it is not inevitable… We know there are proven cost-effective tools to combat malnutrition – such as food fortification and breastfeeding. Investing in these interventions will help ensure millions more children globally have the opportunity to survive and thrive.”

Join conversation on Twitter with hashtag #InvestInNutrition.