This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse on December 14, 2023.
On December 5th, the Eleanor Crook Foundation (ECF) co-hosted a panel discussion titled “Global Stability at the Nexus of Food Security and Malnutrition” at the 2023 International Democracy Union (IDU) Forum in Washington, D.C. The International Democracy Union is the largest global organization of center-right political parties, and each year its Forum in D.C. brings together policymakers, senior party officials, and thought leaders from its global membership to discuss challenges and opportunities in policy and governing in both established and emerging democracies.
ECF’s panel at the IDU Forum highlighted the linkage between food and nutrition security with political stability and economic prosperity. Stephen Harper, Chairman of the IDU and the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada – and who, during his tenure, prioritized international development and successfully secured $11 billion in new funding under the Muskoka Initiative – provided introductory remarks. ECF CEO Will Moore moderated the panel discussion between Erna Solberg, former Prime Minister of Norway (2013-2021), and Enda Kenny, former Prime Minister (Taoiseach) of Ireland (2011-2017).
To frame the conversation on stage, Moore made the connection between hunger and conflict in this way: “Most of the people who won’t have anything to eat today – whose child will die today from starvation – live in the poorest and most marginalized communities on earth. And so often, these exact same places are also the headwaters of conflict, migration, and violent extremism. Hunger drives all of these things. We know the world’s bad actors weaponize and exploit desperation, and when you and your children are hungry, nothing else matters. We see time and again that hunger and malnutrition have a profound and sometimes very direct impact on peace, stability, migration, and our national security.”
In their far-reaching discussion, Prime Minister Kenny and Prime Minister Solberg touched on their experiences as leaders who have prioritized and championed development – and on how policymakers can continue to ensure that food security and malnutrition remain priorities. Prime Minister Solberg has co-chaired the UN Secretary General’s Advocacy group for the Sustainable Development Goals since 2016, and Prime Minister Kenny led Ireland in joining the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Movement as a founding member country.
One point of agreement was clear: malnutrition is a solvable crisis – but without necessary resources channeled to the most impactful solutions, it is a crisis that will have wide-ranging and dangerous consequences, not only for those who suffer and lose their lives needlessly, but for global stability.
In his closing remarks, Moore noted that the Eleanor Crook Foundation will continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to foster scaling up the most proven, cost-effective solutions for severe hunger – and that the Foundation looks forward to working with new partners who see solving this crisis as a strategic imperative. He ended with this reminder: “As long as families can’t put food on the table, and as long as thousands of children are starving to death each day, we will never live in a peaceful world.”