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Venkatesh Mannar addresses Strong Cooperation for Better Food Security and Nutrition meeting
Bill Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Dirk Niebel, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development with Strong Cooperation for Better Food Security and Nutrition meeting participants
Photo by Michaela Wilczek


MI President Venkatesh Mannar speaks with Bill Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at the Strong Cooperation for Better Food Security and Nutrition meeting in Berlin on January 29, 2013.
Photo by Michaela Wilczek

On Tuesday, January 29th, 2013, MI President Venkatesh Mannar joined Bill Gates and German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel in a round-table meeting to discuss global food security and nutrition.

The event in Berlin was hosted by Minister Niebel and moderated by David Nabarro, UN Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition.

Approximately two dozen high-ranking international representatives from the political sphere, the private sector and civil society participated in the frank, private discussion to sound out future cooperation potential on new approaches to the alleviation of hunger and malnutrition.

Emphasizing that nutrition issues have for too long been dealt with in isolation, Mannar called for a “dietary quality revolution every bit as profound as the green revolution of the 1960s”.

Billions of people around the world suffer from micronutrient deficiencies that affect their health, learning capacity, earning potential, productivity and the health and survival of their children. An estimated 18 million children are born mentally impaired each year as a result of iodine deficiency. Approximately one third of children under five years of age suffer from vitamin A deficiency, increasing their risk of death from diseases such as pneumonia and measles.

As MI and others have shown, innovative action at the intersection between private enterprise and public good has been producing impressive results in addressing this need for improved nutrition.

For example, MI has been at the forefront of working with small and medium scale salt harvesters to help ensure that more than four billion people on the planet now have access to iodized salt. Very recently, we have helped develop new technologies that we know will allow the addition of iron or folic acid as well.

At the Berlin round-table Mannar noted the need to build quickly and skillfully on these blueprints for effective collaboration. “It has become abundantly clear that in order to overcome the challenges of malnutrition, new types of partnership, institutional innovations, and better coordination between the public and private sector and civil society are essential.”

It will take the collaboration of many different organizations, companies and governments to solve malnutrition. This may be challenging, given the diversity of interests, points of views, backgrounds and responsibilities from these different sectors. However, open communication amongst partners is essential to effectively tackle the diverse causes of malnutrition in a concerted way. This meeting was an integral step in providing a platform for these communications.

READ Venkatesh Mannar´s full remarks.