Launch of Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Year of Action

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By Elena Moroni, External Relations Officer, Action for Development

14 December 2020

Photo@UN 2020

The event showcased new policy and financing commitments to nutrition from a range of stakeholders, while formally launching a ‘Nutrition For Growth Year of Action’, that includes milestone events leading up to the Summit in Tokyo in late December 2021.

Appearances from global nutrition champions included:
• Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF;
• Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;
• Agnes Kalibata, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Food System’s Summit;
• Gerda Verburg, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Coordinator of the SUN Movement;
• Andrew Morley, CEO World Vision International;
• and many more.

A message from

Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, Canada
Zahid Maleque, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh:

“A United Nations Call to Action (2020) predicted that without timely action, the COVID-19 pandemic would result in dramatic increases in wasting. We know that women and girls will suffer some of the worst consequences of economic disruptions and reduced nutrition services. Recommitting to nutrition as a central component of COVID response and recovery, and as a long-term development priority, is the only sure way to deliver on the World Health Assembly Nutrition Targets and the Sustainable Development Goals. The time to act is now!

We look forward to recommitting, together, to delivering on our collective ambitions for a world without malnutrition”!

Some of the highlights from the event:

“Women and girls can only learn, earn, grow and lead with good nutrition to fuel their growth, says Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, Canada: “We need to work together now on all aspects of nutrition with global push for nutrition funding”. She announced Canada’s commitment of $520 million for nutrition-specific investments over the next 5 years to address acute malnutrition & the underlying determinants of malnutrition.

Zahid Maleque, Minister of Health & Family Welfare of Bangladesh: “The number of children suffering from wasting will rise due to the pandemic & nutrition is a critical part of the COVID-19 response for the Gov of Bangladesh”.

Mr. ONO Keiichi, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan announced a new N4G vision & roadmap.”The Government of Japan remains fully committed to nutrition & to achieving the sustainable dev. goals. Nutrition must be in the forefront in 2021!”


“All of us share an unshakable belief that a better world is possible” Joel Spicer, CEO of Nutrition International makes bold commitments by 2030 including:  preventing 4.4m cases of stunting and 60m cases of anemia; ensuring 150m children receive 2 doses of vitamin A a year.

Andrew Morley, President of World Vision, committed to USD $500 million of private funding for both nutrition sensitive and specific + an additional $700 million of nutrition grant-funded programs!

“We must make the most of this year of action and collectively broaden the support base. Nobody can doubt that ending malnutrition everywhere is the right thing to do. The United Kingdom will not look away.” Wendy Morton MP

Data from UNICEF estimates that nearly 87 million fewer children will get the 2 doses of VitaminA they need this year – a 35% decline over last year. 41 million adolescent girls and boys will not benefit from programmes for the prevention of anemia because of school closures. “Since 2000, the world has reduced the proportion of children under 5 suffering from stunting by 1/3 and the # of children who are stunted by 55M. This proves that positive change for nutrition is possible & happening at scale.” Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF stated.

UNICEF will secure an annual investment of at least US$ 700 million in nutrition programs reaching 130 countries and at least 500M children, adolescents & women with policies and programs that support the delivery of nutritious diets, nutrition services & practices to tackle malnutrition, and to mobilize an additional US$800 million in the coming year to accelerate global efforts for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of child wasting as part of the agenda on the Global Action Plan on Child Wasting. “Together we will make 2021 a year of action for nutrition.”

“Nutrition is the game changer for children, families, communities & societies, but it needs to be seen as such for gender equality and to get young people committed” Gerda Verburg, making a strong commitment on behalf of the SUN Movement: to focus on the first 1000 days of a newborn,  ‘hidden hunger’ anemia, obesity & nutrient deficiency. “We must combine health, food, social protection, education & economic development. Improving nutrition is a matter of political will.” – “Only together will we make 2021 a year for action”.

“Less than 1% of donor funding goes towards eradicating malnutrition” Melinda Gates reported. “Nutrition is the key that will give women and children the chance not just to survive but to truly thrive – and that benefits everyone. COVID-19 began as a medical emergency, but it didn’t stay that way. It is now an economic crisis, a food crisis, and yes, a nutrition crisis. Women and girls, already so vulnerable to malnutrition, are having to endure some of its worst effects. While largely invisible, anemia robs the health of 1.5 billion girls and women each year.”


When asked why focus on nutrition now, Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) responded: “COVID-19 disruptions are most severe for mothers w/ the highest nutritional needs and the impact of the pandemic isn’t limited to the short-term. We’re granting COVID-19 an inter-generational legacy of malnutrition. Women who are pregnant now, will deliver children who are already malnourished at birth and these children are disadvantaged from the very start. An entire generation is at stake”.

“We cannot let the pandemic erode the decades of progress we’ve made. We must work together to best address malnutrition rates, take action to create a more equitable world.” Elizabeth Nyamayaro, political scientist & former senior UN leader, moderator of the event.

Mamta Murthi, Vice President of the World Bank For Human Development: “To mobilize nutrition-specific funds, the World Bank Treasury has worked to issue a AUD$ 150 million IBRD sustainable development bond to mobilize funding and raise the profile of nutrition among private sector investors and others. Building forward better with nutrition specific programs, in particular programs that cover health & agriculture sectors.”

The first panel: Making the link between Nutrition & Gender Equality had Michael Messenger, CEO of World Vision Canada state that “Good nutrition helps gender equality and gender equality helps good nutrition.”

“More than 1billion women and girls are malnourished and are twice as likely to suffer from malnutrition than men and boys” Karina Gould, stressing Canada’s commitment to promoting gender equality in nutrition.

Martha Nyagaya, Nutrition International: “many of the nutrition programs that focus on women and girls are under researched/resourced/prioritized. We must ensure that an acute pandemic does not become an ongoing crisis”.

“The consequences of stunting in children are life-long”, closing remarks from Agnes Kalibata encouraging all stakeholders to work together to end malnutrition.

To learn more about the Food Systems Summit 2021