1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Public Affairs
September 14, 2010

Partnering to Reduce Child Undernutrition

"Our principal concern is our children. Because ultimately, that’s who we’re working to protect – the children whose lives and futures are most vulnerable to the dangers and deprivations of poverty… If you want to know how stable a country is, don’t count the number of advanced weapons, count the number of undernourished children." – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

"We must settle for nothing less than the eradication of hunger. Basic justice and humanity require us to act now. Let us walk the last mile together." – Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States, and Micheal Martin T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, joined by leaders from governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector, will host an event on September 21, 2010 in New York City, to promote action to address the problem of child undernutrition. The “1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future” event will focus on programs targeting the 1,000 day period of a child’s life (the period beginning with a woman’s pregnancy and continuing until a child is 2 years old).

Undernutrition in the World:
• 200 million children around the world suffer from chronic undernutrition.
• 3.5 million preventable maternal and child deaths occur annually from undernutrition.
• Half of all children in many countries are stunted.

The Problem

Undernutrition is one of the world’s most serious and least addressed problems, even though proven and low-cost interventions exist. It results from insufficient food intake, inadequate care, and infectious diseases. Good nutrition in early childhood is essential to achieve one’s full physical and intellectual potential. Chronic undernutrition leads to negative impacts on intellectual capacity, educational performance, and productivity.

The Opportunity

Undernutrition is largely preventable, and evidence shows conclusively that a set of direct nutrition interventions leads to higher levels of human development. The 1,000 day window in a child’s life is critical because the physical and mental damage caused by undernutrition is largely irreversible after two years of age. Addressing undernutrition is essential to meeting the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals by contributing to reduced hunger and improved health. Evidence shows that a child who is well nourished for the critical 1,000 days will have a healthier and more prosperous future.

Partnering for Children

The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Framework, which has been endorsed by over 100 partners, including international organizations, national governments, civil society and the private sector, guides the international community’s work to combat undernutrition through a growing partnership for collective action among key stakeholders. The “1,000 Days” event aims to jumpstart global and country efforts in support of the SUN Framework. The September 21 event provides a platform for the international community to highlight its work in nutrition, including the development of the SUN Roadmap. It will focus attention and energy on the priority actions in the SUN Roadmap around the critical 1000 day window and for 1000 days. “1,000 Days” is more than one event. It includes commitments to follow-up actions to advance the SUN Roadmap and to inspire a broad-based movement to improve child nutrition.

For more information, and follow-up events, see www.thousanddays.org.

Department of Foreign Affairs - Irish Aid