MLC Members feature in UN STI Forum 2021  News

MLC Admin

In early May the Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) at Results for Development in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs, co-hosted the UN's Science, Technology, and Innovation Forum 2021. The virtual event series focused on ‘Innovations catalyzed by Covid-19. Among the fantastic array of experts featured in the event, 25 innovations from around the world were hand selected to present on how they pivoted their operations to respond to the pandemic. We are extremely proud that several Members of the Million Lives Club were part of this group. Below, two Members write about their experience of the UN STI Forum.

MLC Vanguard Member, We Care Solar was honored to be chosen from thousands of innovators to present at the UN STI Forum 2021 in a session focused on Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Innovations. The Forum gave We Care Solar unique opportunities in which to share, to connect, and to learn.

“Our Africa Regional Director Ambrose Katungi Muhwezi shared our 10-year experience in improving maternal and newborn care by providing clean, reliable power to last-mile health facilities. By presenting our Solar Suitcase innovation and our Light Every Birth initiative, we reached thousands of global participants and raised a voice on behalf of organizations, funders, implementers and beneficiaries that are improving the quality of maternal and newborn care through renewable energy for health. Ambrose and the We Care Solar team also appreciated the opportunities to connect with other innovators tackling global challenges and to increase our Light Every Birth network. Ultimately, we valued the lessons learned from the challenges faced by the three other innovators on the Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Innovation panel and noted that each innovation required power and electricity for effective service delivery. Light and power remain central to health care delivery, particularly during COVID-19.

Light and electricity are critical to efforts to promote clean, safe working environments and around-the-clock services. During the pandemic, we have seen how access to renewable energy services has ve been essential in efforts to screen, isolate, manage, and vaccinate patients as well as properly document all services offered. We are determined to give all health workers the power to save lives.

MLC Vanguard Member, HarvestPlus was honored that biofortification was selected as a winner in the 2020 United Nations Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Call, and was invited to participate in a panel on Food Systems Innovations at the 2021 UN STI Forum. We were proud to showcase our almost two decades of interdisciplinary and intersectoral work leading the development and delivery of biofortification, with a vision to help tackle ever-increasing food and nutrition insecurity by ensuring that widely available, accessible and affordable staple crops are bred (by using non-GMO methods) to be a source of critical nutrients needed for human nutrition and health. As a result of HarvestPlus-led delivery efforts, in 2020 an estimated 9.7 million farming households were growing biofortified crops, with over 49 million people consuming these nutritious varieties proven to effectively and efficiently reduce – if not reverse - micronutrient deficiencies and improve health outcomes.

The Forum was a valuable opportunity to connect and form partnerships not only with other food systems innovators, but also with a diverse audience of stakeholders working to scale innovations in the food system. Three billion people globally cannot afford a healthy, nutritious diet, and 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient malnutrition, and these are pre-pandemic estimates. Disruptions to food supply chains like COVID-19 and climate change make healthy diets even less accessible and less affordable. While working to ensure vulnerable populations could access biofortified crops despite COVID-19 restrictions, HarvestPlus recognized the growing demand for nutrition resilience in the food system. We are grateful to the UN and the Forum for shedding a spotlight on biofortification, which couldn’t have come at a better time. With nutrition and food systems being high on the global agenda this year with Nutrition for Growth and UN Food Systems Summit, we hope to see biofortification included among the game-changing innovations stakeholders will be committing to scaling. We all need, want, and deserve a food system that delivers affordable, healthy diets. Opportunities like the UN STI Forum are key to bringing together innovators, implementers and investors, in food and other systems, to catalyze impactful change.