Turning Inspiration into Action, Unforgettable Experience
Serving as a pillar of excellence for agricultural appreciation and awareness, the World Food Prize Foundation continues to make strides in its mission to honor those who advance the quality, quantity and availability of food for all on this earth. For three days in October, hundreds of high school students, educators and experts in their field gathered in Des Moines, Iowa, to attend the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, the Iowa Hunger Summit, and two award ceremonies, all of which highlighted actions being taken to address global food security. Students attending this year’s events received the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by some of the greatest educators and innovators in agriculture today with a focus on nutrition and its connection to food security.
The world is suffering from starvation, wars, famines, climate change, obesity and other diseases that all together are affecting access to food. The cost of it is not only economic and social - it will impact the future of children who cannot have a proper nutrition, so their education development will be affected as well. Science, key leaders, youth, and all who are working in agriculture, nutrition, dietetics, biotechnology, and so many more fields have to act together. The whole group of challenges should be solved with a global effort, and everybody needs to work in parallel with the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Given all of this, it is only fitting that “Rise to the Challenge” was the theme of the week this year.
Celebrated author Roger Thurow attended this week's events, and all teachers received his book The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children And the World. The beginning of The First 1,000 Days alludes to the scientific and social science research on early childhood malnutrition, then gives way to a new generation of innovation and inspiration to re-think old approaches to ‘feeding the world.’ It’s with careful research, attention, and implementation that proper nutrition during those 1,000 days can profoundly influence a life in ways that determine a society’s long-term health and prosperity.
With this link between good nutrition and prosperity in mind, the World Food Prize Foundation chose two Laureates to receive the 2018 World Food Prize. These two individuals were Dr. Lawrence Haddad and Dr. David Nabarro. Both of these outstanding individuals have led pivotal movements addressing food and nutrition security. In particular, their efforts have focused more on the public health and medical side of agriculture.
Dr. Haddad and Dr. Nabarro have worked with private and public sector entities to create lasting partnerships committed to improving nutrition for all. Both are champions of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, which unites government officials, civil society, the United Nations, financial donors, businesses leaders and research scientists to collectively improve nutrition and to work towards a goal of nutrition-smart agriculture.
Finding that connection between agriculture and nutrition is extraordinary, and this year’s World Food Prize event has highlighted just that. Nutrition has traditionally been seen as a health issue, not an agriculture issue. Our world is so vast and so complex that if we focus on one area of agriculture to tackle food security, we will soon lose sight of the community we need to build to combat the issue at hand.
A quote from the Laureates in the Telegraph sums up what we heard them say over and over again during the week, and is particularly inspiring to us: "It is urgency we need, not complacency and hopelessness. As this year’s World Food Prize Laureates, we have spent our lives fighting against this kind of thinking. The complexity of food systems represents a real opportunity, and does not lead us to despair. Collaboration is a way of building rather than dissipating power. Evidence is a way of galvanizing rather than paralyzing action. Leadership should generate a race to the top rather than the bottom. Malnutrition is not inevitable; it is a choice. No country has a monopoly on the problem and none a monopoly on the solution. Countries must work together to find their own way forward."
The discussions that happen during the events of the World Food Prize only highlight some of the many systemic issues within our environment; yet the most important thing it does is to create a spark of inspiration for those who attend to change the future, and learn from our past.