12 June 2014
Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2)
Joint FAO-WHO Press Conference
Members of the press, Ladies and gentlemen,
My greetings to those who are following us via web.
I would like to make only a few comments, because Margaret Chan stated the most important points on why we are organizing the Second International Conference on Nutrition and Jomo Sundaram will follow by presenting more details on how we will be organizing it.
I would like to begin by saying that there is a growing interest in attending the conference. We have many confirmations, including from Pope Francis, who will be with us on the second day, on the 20th, since he has his traditional meeting on Wednesday, the 19th.
Why do we want this international conference? Margaret has already answered this question.
Progress has been insufficient and also uneven, as she highlighted. But I would like to add a few more comments.
First, it is about the cost of not doing anything. It is very important. Sometimes we don’t realize that not taking action has a high cost, sometimes even more than when we make wrong decisions.
We see that nowadays taking all the issues related to nutrition, it points to a loss of up to 5 percent of global income per year. That means 3.5 trillion dollars, or more or less 500 dollars per capita. It is a big amount of money. This is a big price to pay and this is one of the reasons why nutrition is on the international agenda.
The second point that I would like to emphasize is that nutrition is a public issue. Not a private one. Some people believe that it is up to the family or the individual to make decisions on what they like to eat. But nutrition has a big impact in many other areas, as Margaret has already emphasized, particularly on food safety, health and also on food security.
What we hope to achieve from this International Conference is to have a Political Declaration and a Framework for Action to be endorsed by member countries, that give us a roadmap for the future.
And I would like to remind you that, although governments are ultimately responsible for the nutrition and welfare of their citizens, we see a very important role for non-state actors to play in nutrition.
That is my third comment: we are keen to have the strong participation of parliaments and non-state actors, including the private sector and civil society organizations.
We have already started some web consultations with them. Next week we will have a meeting here at FAO with them.
We hope they can play an active role, not only in helping to build consensus around the political declaration, but also to implement the Framework for Action, which is the main goal of this conference.
That was what I would like to say in this introduction, and now let me give the floor to Jomo Sundaram for his presentation.