We all know of the pivotal role nutrition plays in improving the health of the most vulnerable in developing countries.
Nutrition is at the centre of Canada's top development priority — improving the health of mothers, newborns and children — and will be a key focus of Canada's commitment to this cause from 2015 to 2020.
When women have access to proper nutrition, it improves not only their lives, but also the lives of their families and communities. The ripple effect extends to creating healthier communities and providing a foundation that allows economies to flourish.
Without sustainable economic growth, there will be no lasting solution to poverty.
This is why Canada has long been a champion of improving nutrition.
Nutrition was a key pillar of the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health that Canada launched in 2010 and at the Saving Every Woman, Every Child Summit in Toronto this past May.
With our partners, Canada has made a significant difference in the global fight to improve nutrition. Canada has been a strong supporter of the Scaling Up Nutrition program and we are the largest donor to the Micronutrient Initiative — an organization that works to eliminate vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the world's most vulnerable populations.
The initiative is the largest supplier of vitamin A supplements to developing nations — vitamin A significantly reduces child mortality and blindness.
It is also working to reach the last 30 per cent of households with no access to iodized salt, because iodine is a key micronutrient in the improvement of cognitive function and in the development of healthy brains.
The initiative is a leading supplier of zinc, which reduces the harmful effects of diarrhea; iron, which decreases anemia; and folic acid, which helps people absorb nutrients from the food they eat. This Canadian organization, in partnership with others, has contributed to saving about three million children's lives over the past 15 years.
The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is another Canadian success story.
Combining grain donations from Canadian farmers and financial donations from churches and individuals, as well as project funding from your Canadian government, this organization feeds more than one million people every year.
Leading Canadian agricultural organizations, such as Mennonite Economic Development Associates, the Canadian Hunger Foundation and USC Canada, are all working to improve food security and nutrition by biofortifying crops — adding life-saving micronutrients to family diets.
They are doing this in environmentally sustainable ways — by selecting locally adapted resilient crops that require minimal technology to grow.
We must ensure that nutrition remains a central commitment in Canada's global efforts. I am confident that we can build on lessons learned to improve co-ordination, scale up our efforts and work effectively to save lives around the world.