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Global leaders gather this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss the world's most pressing issues. WFP, attending for the tenth successive year, will be taking the opportunity to highlight how the private sector can help steer the world towards the objective of zero hunger, playing a key role in the global initiative known as the Zero Hunger Challenge.
ROME - The Zero Hunger Challenge, launched by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, encourages everyone - whether in government, business or civil society - to focus their energies on ending hunger in our lifetimes. By partnering with WFP and supporting its work, major global companies such as Unilever, DSM and MasterCard have already started to do this, joining with governments and civil society in the quest for zero hunger.
WFP's involvement in the WEF is an opportunity to engage with these partners as well as to meet with potential new partners. Every year, WFP goes to Davos to cultivate the innovative ideas and partnerships that are needed to meet the food and nutritional needs of the world's most vulnerable people. In fact, many of WFP's most important private sector partnerships have been forged here.
The objective of Zero Hunger, which the private sector can do much to help achieve, is not just about altruism. When you look at the statistics, the business case for zero hunger is solid. Recent studies have shown that chronic undernutrition in early childhood has a lifelong negative effect on a person's ability to generate income. By limiting a country's citizens in this way, undernutrition also limits the growth of a country's GDP.
Davos, home of the World Economic Forum. (Copyright: swiss-image.ch/Andy Mettler)
But what does Zero Hunger look like? Among other things It means no more stunting in children under 2 and access to adequate food for everyone all year round. This can be achieved, because all the knowledge needed is readily available. But it requires comprehensive efforts and it will only be possible if women are empowered; if priority is given to family farming; and if food systems everywhere are sustainable and resilient.
Part of WFP's mandate is to keep global hunger on the world's agenda and this is why the we are in Davos. Along with other UN agencies and NGOs, we will be taking part in discussions on how to solve issues such as hunger and malnutrition, and related issues such as poverty and gaps in primary education. The organizers of the WEF, and our other private-sector sponsors, have made an important commitment to Zero Hunger by inviting us and helping us place our work and our partnerships front and centre at this gathering of business and political leaders.