SE053 Leveraging technological innovation to address malnutrition: the key to achieve SDG 2: How can multistakeholder partnerships be leveraged to create innovative solutions to address all forms of malnutrition and achieve SDG 2?

Organizers

  • Colombia
  • WFP

Technological innovation represents a key catalyser for transformational change in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. In a context of increasingly complex and protracted crises, rapidly growing population, natural resource scarcity, and climate change, the role of technology is ever more crucial in enabling more efficient and effective food systems in our efforts to achieve SDG 2. Building more sustainable and resilient food systems to enhance food security and nutrition requires not only innovative research and technologies, but also increased access to these technologies and context-specific solutions. In the wake of natural hazards, mass displacement, and climate change, new technologies have shown tremendous potential to target vulnerable populations and address malnutrition.

This Side Event will showcase how innovation and access to technology play a pivotal role in reshaping food systems for healthier diets and enhanced nutrition. In particular, it will be a unique occasion to share best practices and lessons learnt of how different stakeholders (public, private, civil society, and UN) have leveraged the power of technology for improved nutrition outcomes. The Side Event will examine different examples in various contexts where new technologies have proved instrumental in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of nutrition interventions.

Key speakers/presenters

Keynote Speaker 

  • H.E. Maria Juliana Ruiz Sandoval - First Lady of the Republic of Colombia.

Moderator

  • Miguel Barreto - Regional Director of the United Nations World Food 
  • Programme (WFP) for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Panelists

  • Lauren Landis - Director of Nutrition of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
  • Amador Gomez - Technical Director (Spain), Action Against Hunger.
  • Katie Davis - Senior Regulatory Affairs Manager, Apeel Sciences.
  • Avinash Upadhyay- Lead, India Operations, Digital Green (remote presentation).
  • Gerda Verburg- Coordinator of the SUN Movement.

Main themes/issues discussed  

The panel discussion focused on sharing interventions and case studies that aimed to advance the global nutrition agenda through utilizing alternative and non-conventional tools, platforms and processes. The identification, collection, management and storage of data was a major theme amongst the panelists, and it was unanimously agreed that robust data was paramount in combating all forms of malnutrition; with Lauren Landis encompassing this perspective when stating, “poor data equals poor results”. The smartphone applications Scope and Meza, both created by WFP, were later presented during the panel and highlighted the ability for health workers to store and collect health data electronically. The electronic storage and collection of data can directly transform behaviors, through generating new insights and results in field health clinics. Another positive aspect of the use of technology, is the potential to assist and improve in program planning with governments. H.E. Maria Juliana Ruiz Sandoval introduced the importance of nourishment during her keynote speech, which was a theme carried throughout the discussion – not only with food, but more importantly to provide nutrient-rich and balanced diets, as well as social empowerment. The power and importance of social empowerment was further expressed in the presentations from Amador Gomez and Avinash Upadhyay. Both technological innovations worked closely with various communities, providing them with the knowledge and skills to address the root causes of malnutrition. Katie Davis shared their technological advancement in a plant-based proprietary technology that can significantly limit post-harvest food waste and how these types of technologies can be used to address malnutrition. Finally, Gerda Verburg summarized the diversity of interventions and linked them into several recommendations and actions to improve global nutrition outcomes.

Summary of key points 

A challenge often faced by humanitarian organizations is how they can best work in collaboration with governments and the private sector. The panelists successfully addressed this issue, providing insights into ways to achieve collaborative effort. The electronic collection and storage of data is an innovation that would assist tremendously when working with governments. Accurate and readily available data would provide organizations and governments with a better understanding of the problems faced by the community, to enable them to adopt actions within program planning to address these problems. Once again, Lauren Landis highlighted this when stating, “Improved data quality leads to improved decision making and as a result improved service”. The importance of equal access through gender equality and social empowerment was repeatedly addressed throughout the discussion, with panelists presenting various ways to achieve these initiatives. Societal and environmental demands have led to changes along the food value chain, whereby addressing the increasing trends of food losses post-harvest and extending shelf life can play a key role in addressing malnutrition. Katie Davis presented a new product in the form of a water-based plant-derived edible peel to be used on fruit and vegetables to reduce spoilage. The extended shelf life benefits the environment tremendously, as it reduces food waste and alternative, less environmentally damaging transport avenues, can be explored. 

Key take away messages

  • The importance of gender equality and equal access when addressing malnutrition within communities was highlighted. 
  • Improved access and equitable access help to improve nutrition globally and locally.
  • It is vital to build trust with governments and the private sector, as well as to challenge them and be clear of intended needs and goals. 
  • When addressing nutrition, it is not solely about providing food and defeating hunger.
  • It is about providing nutritionally rich food and a balanced, diverse diet that supports local agriculture systems. 
  • As well as engaging with communities and empowering them socially. “Nourishing body and soul” (H.E. Maria Juliana Ruiz Sandoval). 
CFS 46 Side Event: SE053 Leveraging technological innovation to address malnutrition

 

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