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European Commission

Andris Piebalgs

European Commissioner for Development

Intervention at the Global Hunger Event


12 August 2012

Let me begin by thanking Prime Minister David Cameron for inviting me to this Global Event on Nutrition – a welcome initiative reflecting the growing commitment among Heads of State and stakeholders all over the world to step up global efforts to combat the persistent curse of undernutrition.

The EU and myself personally are strongly committed to catalysing real and permanent change in this area. I have seen the effects of undernutrition and stunting. It is a terrible and tragic thing to witness.

But my commitment here is more than an emotional response to witnessing such personal tragedy; dealing with undernutrition is a first and basic precondition to creating the conditions for development and growth to take root; it is vital to equip the world's poorest with the chances to pull themselves out of poverty.

It is a simple fact that no society has succeeded in emerging from poverty without the ability to feed itself. The Commission has therefore been stepping up funding to combat undernutrition over recent years.

Let me just mention two example of our recent actions. We recently launched the so called MDG initiative in order to help our partner countries to close the gap on the most off-track Millennium Development Goals. We will focus mainly on the MDGs related to hunger and child mortality and we have already allocated 225 million euro to that end.

Also, as science and innovation is critical to combat undernutrition we will invest 3 million euro in HarvestPlus to develop rich seeds and tubers to benefit the poor in Africa and India. And we will continue to do much more.

Indeed, in its recent review of development priorities, the Agenda for Change, the Commission has identified food security, including nutrition, to be a key priority for EU development spending up to 2020.

But this is not just about establishing priorities, it is about improving the way we work, turning funding into results on the ground. In this respect, I believe that the Scaling Up Nutrition initiative can really drive change.

It is important that such expressions of determination are translated into real results that people can measure, and on which the world's poorest can rely upon.

A new global target to reduce the number of stunted children by 70 million by 2025 has been agreed by the World Health Assembly.

I would therefore like to announce that the Commission will accept responsibility for supporting our partner countries so that at least10% of this target, at least 7 million children, is met through programmes funded by the European Commission.

In recent months I have sensed that a tide has turned in the fight against under nutrition; we now have before us a number of opportunities; the SUN initiative, an increasing focus and realisation by developing countries for the need for long term sustainable and resilient agricultural strategies based on partnership between donors and governments, the push towards the completion of the MDG goals, and indeed the launch of the discussions for the post MDG approach after 2015, which I am sure we all agree that under nutrition should be a key focus.

Today's conference represents an important stepping stone to realising the aim of a hunger free world; step by step, action by action.

The renewed determination that we have seen today to dealing with stunting will make a real difference, will create chance and opportunity for millions that would otherwise be condemned, at birth, to a life of poverty.

I have no doubt that we can indeed use this event as a spring board to continue to make progress in the months ahead. We must do so and you can count on the European Commission to play its full part.

Thank you.

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