Statement by UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi at the Global Food Security Summit
As prepared for delivery
LONDON, 20 November 2023 - "Excellencies, distinguished guests, it is an honor to be here today representing UNICEF at this important gathering.
"I come with a message of hope.
"It might seem strange to talk about hope right now, at a time when the world is facing an array of complex crises from conflicts to climate change, and when the media headlines seem only to bring bad news. But amidst all this darkness and negativity, there is indeed hope and there is progress.
"Excellencies, I am here to tell you that, thanks to the tenacity and generosity of everyone in this room, we finally have the momentum to put child malnutrition behind us once and for all. Since the year 2000, stunting in children under 5 years of age has declined by one-third, and today, there are 60 million fewer undernourished children. Meanwhile, the number of children screened and treated for wasting has also increased. In 2022, for example, more than 182 million children under 5 were reached with services for the early prevention, detection and treatment of child wasting, up from 154 million the year before.
"But we still have work to do.
"Today, malnutrition remains one the leading threats to children’s survival, growth and development. Worldwide, 149 million children under 5 still experience stunted growth and development due to undernutrition, which for the most part, occurs during the first 1,000 days of life.
"This means we must face the double challenge of sustaining progress, while also reaching children who have not been reached before. But I know we are up to the task. By working collaboratively, mobilizing resources, and advocating for change, we can create a world where no child suffers the burden of malnutrition.
"It has been my honour to be with you today alongside our hosts, with the Government of the United Kingdom, to inaugurate the Child Nutrition Fund.
"Over the next few years, we will work together with partners around the world to mobilize the necessary resources to reach at least: 250 million children with services for the prevention and early detection of malnutrition, 100 million women with services for the early prevention of malnutrition, and 10 million children with services for the early treatment of malnutrition.
"The Child Nutrition Fund will coordinate this unprecedented global effort with national governments and Civil Society Organizations. This coordination will help to ensure that we are driven by needs on the ground, and that we work side by side with those responsible for translating resources into results for children and women.
"Thanks to the generosity and commitment of our partners today we have the means to embark on this journey. But to reach our destination, we need your continued support, your ideas and your commitment. I hope you will join us. Thank you."