- July 14, 2016
- Kalpana Beesabathuni
As we head into the month of the greatest games of all – the Olympics, have you ever wondered why their motto is ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ not ‘Fastest, Highest, Strongest’? According to the literature, it is because the human spirit is best embodied in a single word – BETTER. All progress has emanated from the desire to improve, to be BETTER. When the Olympic flame reaches Rio the world will witness another spectacular show of sportsmanship from 206 nations. Records will be broken, human potential will be stretched to the limits and athletes will do BETTER than ever before despite social, political and human setbacks.
Harnessing each other’s strengths towards victory
For those of us working towards a world free from malnutrition, a world where every child has the ability to reach their full potential, to achieve the progress we need to make that vision a reality, it will take several different and even divergent sectors to work together in harmony – harnessing each other’s strengths. One group or individual will need to run one leg of the race and then pass the baton on to another to take it to the next point and then to another until as a team we can say ‘we did it.’
Malnutrition has become more complex. It is neither undernutrition nor overnutrition. It is both – even in one community, one family, one individual. As such, both have to be addressed together. They might require different actions and necessitate different stakeholders to become engaged but they can no longer be addressed independently. We need to bring to bear the strengths of all.
Undernutrition and overnutrition have one thing in common – one of the main drivers responsible for the alarming rise of both stunting and overweight/obesity is the food that we grow and eat and the systems that must efficiently deliver that food. The food system in its entirety is at the core of the problem and is thus also at the heart of the solution. If we leave out (unconsciously or deliberately) any section/sector from our thinking as we seek solutions, we may miss a critical element. For this reason, the newly released Sight and Life magazine, has as its focus ‘Food Systems’.
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.”
— Pierre de Coubertin, (founder of the modern Olympic Games)
For this edition, we at Sight and Life, took a step towards an inter-sector collaboration by partnering with the World Food System Center at ETH Zurich to bring perspectives from thought leaders belonging to two traditionally distinct camps: agriculture and health. The magazine covers a wide range of topics that are all part of the relay race we find ourselves in to address malnutrition in all its forms – from the concept of sustainable and resilient food systems to the global protein system and convergent innovation.
It is undeniable that great progress has been made in addressing certain food and nutrition security challenges globally. However, as we try to tackle the multiple health burdens of malnutrition at a time when the environmental basis for food production is in disarray, it is necessary to review what we have done, disrupt current approaches and to be innovative in order to succeed with new ways of thinking and working. This will take collaborative partnerships across disciplines and sectors. Current alliances towards improved nutrition are faster, higher and stronger but are yet to achieve their potential – they must do BETTER. We are capable of more.
“Failure, I can live with. Not trying is what I can’t handle.”
– Sania Richards-Ross (2012 Olympics, gold, 400 m track)