The UN World Food Programme today announced a groundbreaking multi-million dollar programme which harnesses the power of leading multinational companies to work together to end hunger and malnutrition among children in the developing world.
“With the numbers of hungry going up, we need the private sector to join us in the fight,” said WFP’s Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “It’s a battle that’s too big for any one player but together we can find new ways to radically reduce malnutrition.”
Project Laser Beam, announced today by US President Bill Clinton at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, will combine the know-how of WFP with the business expertise of private sector partners such as DSM, Heinz, Kraft Foods, Unilever and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Over the course of the five-year initiative, WFP will raise a collective US$50 million from these and other companies.
“Project Laser Beam is a unique multi sector, multi stakeholder collaboration looking holistically at malnutrition with a specific focus on its key contributing factors of Hygiene, Food Security and Nutrition,” said Unilever CEO Paul Polman. "I am convinced that the only way to tackle an issue as complex as hunger is through driving stronger public-private partnerships and having a laser like focus on a few geographies where we can have real meaningful and sustainable impact.”
“As a food company, we’ve been focused on fighting hunger for decades,” said Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO, Kraft Foods. “Using an innovative combination of our expertise in nutrition, food technology and sustainable agriculture we will speed the process to end hunger. This unique partnership will address both nutritional deficiencies and their underlying social and economic causes."
“Now, more than ever, our commitment is needed to address the real issues the world is facing,” says Feike Sijbesma, CEO of Royal DSM. “As a leading producer of vitamins and a broad range of nutritional ingredients, we aim to improve the quality of the food basket by ensuring that essential vitamins and minerals are part of people's diet. In our close partnership with WFP we help to develop sustainable solutions to the problem of malnutrition.”
"At Heinz we believe no human being should want for food and essential nutrients. Heinz is delighted to be partnering with the World Food Programme and our food industry peers to find creative, sustainable solutions to the serious global health challenges surrounding food quality and food security that confront millions of people across the world," said William R. Johnson, Heinz Chairman, President and CEO.
“To tackle hunger and malnutrition, we have to harness the ideas, the creativity and the technology of the private sector,” said Marc Van Ameringen, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). “We need business to improve the quality and accessibility of nutritious food products, and to make them more affordable for those who need them most”.
At the launch, Stephan Tanda, Member of the Managing Board, DSM; Mitch Ring, Senior Vice President Business Development, Heinz; Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO, Kraft Foods; and Vindi Banga, President Foods, Home & Personal Care, Unilever pledged to mobilise and coordinate resources to improve nutrition, food security and hygiene.
Hunger and malnutrition combined are the number one risk to health worldwide, UN experts say. Undernourishment can stunt growth, sap energy, and slow thinking. Hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
As a first step, Project Laser Beam will conduct an analysis in two Asian countries of crucial gaps in nutrition, food security and hygiene. The aim is to produce a scalable, sustainable and replicable model.
WFP Executive Director Sheeran called on other prospective partners in the public and private sector to join the initiative and fight hunger.
Project Laser Beam: Participating Companies
Royal DSM N.V. is a global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company. DSM’s innovations are helping to address the world’s most pressing issues such as climate change, energy consumption and the need for a balanced food supply. In April 2007, DSM and WFP joined forces to ensure the nutritional needs of WFP beneficiaries are met through the creation of cost-effective micronutrient interventions to improve the general food basket.
The H.J. Heinz company is a global producer of packaged ketchup and sauces, meals and snacks, and infant nutrition. The H. J. Heinz Company Foundation, funded each year by the Company, is committed to promoting the health and nutritional needs of children and families through its signature program, the Heinz Micronutrient Campaign. The Foundation teamed up with WFP in 2009 to support a study on nutritional needs in Bangladesh.
Kraft Foods is the world’s second largest food company. The company’s brands are enjoyed in 150 countries around the world. With focus on fighting hunger and promoting healthy lifestyles, Kraft Foods has supported WFP’s school meal programmes with cash donations since 2004.
Unilever, with operations in 100 countries and products available in 50 more, is one of the world's leading consumer goods companies with a strong portfolio of trusted foods, home and personal care brands. For over 100 years we have built a business with strong values and a mission to act on social issues. Unilever became one of the first companies to establish a partnership with WFP in 2006 with a programme to improve nutrition and health of poor school children around the world. In 2008 we provided 16 million meals, feeding 76,000 children across 6 countries providing them with their primary meal of the day.
The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is an alliance driven by the vision of a world without malnutrition. GAIN mobilizes public-private partnerships and provides financial and technical support to deliver healthier foods and supplements to those people most at risk of malnutrition. Our innovative partnership projects in more than 25 countries are reaching nearly 200 million people with fortified foods. Our project portfolio is growing and our goal is to reach 1 billion people. For more information please visit www.gainhealth.org
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