Shared goals and vision on nutrition – now to convert this into action!

By Mark Rice, RESULTS Global Health Campaigns Manager

Members of Parliament and civil society representatives expressed their shared goals and vision for ending hunger and improving nutrition at the World Food Day event at Parliament House on Monday 19 October.  

This event, which RESULTS Australia co-organised with Save the Children Australia, attracted a high level of interest, with 55 people, including 19 Members of Parliament, attending.  

The event followed soon after the release of the second Global Nutrition Report, which noted that different forms of malnutrition affect every country in the world:

  • Globally, 794 million people are hungry (have an insufficient calorie intake).
  • A total of 2 billion people are short of micronutrients.
  • A total of 161 million children suffer from stunting (being too short for their age) and 51 million children suffer from wasting (have a very low weight for their height).  Both conditions affect their health, education and employment in later life.
  • Globally, 1.9 billion adults and 42 million children are overweight or obese, and 1 in 12 adults suffers from type 2 diabetes.   

The Global Nutrition Report notes uneven progress in reducing undernutrition and little progress in reducing the number of people who are overweight and prone to non-communicable diseases.

The opening address by RESULTS Australia’s CEO, Maree Nutt, included this call to action – the inclusion of ending hunger in the Sustainable Development Goals occurs 38 years after the US Academy of Science indicated that ending hunger within a generation was possible with political will, and that we should not wait another 38 years to finally achieve this goal.

Both Maree and Mat Tinkler (Acting CEO, Save the Children) called on government, civil society and business to make bold commitments to reduce the toll of hunger and malnutrition at the Nutrition for Growth Summit taking place in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016.  Mat suggested the “hunger games” were even more important than the Olympic Games which will follow soon after in Rio.

The new Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Steven Ciobo, observed that Members of Parliament are also passionate about making a difference in reducing poverty and hunger, and our advocacy would help build the case within Government for increased aid funding, including for nutrition.  

The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Matt Thistlethwaite, also emphasised cross-party support for action on nutrition, and mentioned the $40 million per year for new or renewed aid initiatives that Labor had announced at the ACFID Council a few days earlier, which could boost Australia’s capacity to improve nutrition.

With a shared view that we need to change a situation in which 3 million children die each year from malnutrition-related causes and 161 million children are stunted, the next step for us is to ensure that Australia allocates resources to bring about this change, starting in the 2016-17 Budget next May.