The International Coalition for Advocacy on Nutrition (ICAN), comprised of organizations working to improve policies and scale up investments in nutrition, commends the World Bank Group and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development for holding the Spotlight on Nutrition event on April 22nd at the World Bank Spring Meetings. As the discussion emphasized, strong global leadership is critical in ending the global crisis of malnutrition, unlocking human potential, and boosting economic growth. ICAN calls on all donors, governments and stakeholders to urgently increase investments in global nutrition.
Today’s Spotlight on Nutrition event follows the Human Capital Summit that was held in October 2015 during the Work Bank Group’s Annual Meetings, and demonstrates the World Bank’s leadership in fighting malnutrition as a barrier to future growth and development. We are encouraged to see nutrition highlighted as the serious global economic issue that it is, and applaud its continued prioritization by the World Bank.
The evidence is abundantly clear that the ties between nutrition and economic prosperity run deep, and the world cannot afford to wait to increase investments in this area. Malnutrition hinders children’s cognitive development, resulting in less schooling and lower earnings in adulthood. Malnutrition in women also contributes to lower birth weight babies, and perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Each year, undernutrition claims the lives of 3 million children under age five and costs the global economy billions of dollars in lost productivity and health care expenditures. Indeed, every year, losses from malnutrition are far greater than annual losses to the global economy due to the global financial crisis of 2008–2010. At the same time, overweight and obesity are stealing future health and well-being from 41 million children, the vast majority of whom live in lower- and middle-income countries.
Yet these losses are almost entirely preventable. Research by the World Bank and Results for Development shows that an additional investment in nutrition of $7 billion per year over the next 10 years is crucial to achieving global goals and helping millions of women and children escape malnutrition. Investments in nutrition are some of the most cost-effective in development, with every $1 spent on nutrition resulting in up to $35 in returns.
The success of a child and of an entire country starts with good nutrition. World leaders must make necessary investments in nutrition now to save lives, improve economies and help end the cycle of poverty. We are hopeful that in collaboration with the World Bank, world leaders will bring new financial and policy commitments to nutrition throughout 2017. We look forward to celebrating these new commitments at the 2017 World Bank Annual Meetings, and we stand ready to support these efforts.