UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore remarks at the launch of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report

As prepared

15 July 2019

NEW YORK, 15 July 2019 – "On behalf of everyone at UNICEF across 190 countries, thank you all for joining us as we launch this report.

"Nutrition is an important area of focus of our staff members, as we serve and support children in communities around the world — in development and humanitarian contexts alike.

"We were very proud to be part of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report again this year with our sister agencies.

"This report is a critical element in our commitment to a world free from hunger, food insecurity, and maternal and child malnutrition. 

"It helps us monitor the world’s progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals — including target 2.1 to end hunger and 2.2 to end all forms of malnutrition — among others.

"It paints a picture of both progress and potential. Areas where we are winning the battle against hunger and malnutrition — and areas where we risk falling behind if we don’t accelerate our work.

"It demonstrates progress, like the 10 per cent decrease in the prevalence of stunting among children under five over the last six years.

"And it demonstrates the reality that we will not meet our 2030 target of reducing by half the number of stunted children if we don’t accelerate our work.

"It also shows the unfinished business in key areas like wasting, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and low birth weight.

"In fact, using new data from UNICEF and WHO, we were able to report for the first time on low birthweight, which is a key risk factor for death, as well as stunting, lower IQ and a higher risk of being overweight, obese and one day developing heart disease or diabetes.

"And as the report shows, no region is exempt from the rising epidemic of overweight and obese children.

"These findings must be a call to action for the world. We simply cannot afford to lose out on the human capital these children represent because of poor nutrition.

"Which is why we must adopt a life course approach to nutrition, from the earliest days.

"Nutritional support for pregnant women.

"Breastfeeding for newborns.

"Regulations around food-labelling, food standards for schools, and national food guidelines.

"Poverty-reduction programmes that take good nutrition into account. 

"Advocacy programmes to promote healthy diets that limit the consumption of harmful fats, salts and sugars.

"Cash transfer programmes in humanitarian emergencies like conflicts and natural disasters to help families afford food in their time of need.

"And new partnerships with governments and the private sector to help vulnerable families provide nutritious and affordable diets for their children. As the Chair of the Scaling-Up Nutrition Movement, this is a particular focus of work, as we bring governments and businesses together to fight malnutrition.

"We also need better data systems to track progress and gaps — especially on the levels of food insecurity in children, and nutrition-related indicators for older children and adolescents, an area where we don’t have the complete data we need.

"And together, we must continue our efforts to put this issue at front-and-centre in our global development efforts.

"That’s why UNICEF’s annual flagship State of the World’s Children report this year will shine a spotlight on children, food and nutrition. It will also sound the alarm on how poor diets are affecting children — not only fueling stunting, wasting and hunger, but increasing the number of overweight and obese children and young people worldwide.

"And UNICEF is now developing a new strategy on nutrition, to accelerate our work towards our 2030 goals.

"We believe there is simply no better investment for future economic development than investing in nutrition. In the bodies, brains and futures of tomorrow’s citizens — and in the economic potential of entire countries and regions.

"Thank you all for being part of this important effort."

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