Dr Jorg Spieldenner
Head of Public Health Nutrition
Nestlé Research Centre
Interview by Kamran Rafiq (ISNTD) Oct 2013
Dr. Spieldenner is currently Head of Public Health Nutrition at the Nestlé Research Centre in Switzerland, where he is responsible for the Sustainable Nutrition Research Programme. Drawing upon extensive experience spanning the academic, government and non-profit sectors, Dr. Spieldenner speaks here about how a private sector giant can achieve lasting change in global development and sustainability, and the shape of partnerships best placed to achieve this.
Nestle has been extremely active in developing its vision and partnerships for "Creating Shared Value", using nutrition and food to rally partners towards crucial long-term development and sustainability goals. What have been some of the best successes of the framework?
Creating shared value means creating value for the society as well as for the shareholders, which is a different approach than classical philanthropy. Our key focus areas are (1) nutrition health and wellness, (2) rural development, (3) water, (4) environmental sustainability, (5) our people, human rights and compliance. A good example of the work we did in the area of public health nutrition in the Philippines under the CSV framework. There we supported research to demonstrate the socio-economic impact of micronutrient deficiencies covering both population health and losses to the economy. This stipulated discussions among ministries in the country. This type of research is not only important to contribute to nutrition policy discussions, but also helps to develop a clear business strategy of fortification in the concerned countries, which translates into nutritional commitments.
Nestlé, for example, is committed to help reduce the risk of undernutrition through micronutrient fortification, and by the end of 2016 provide 200 billion micronutrient-fortified servings of foods and beverages annually worldwide.
In Nestle's view, working towards the 2020 goals it has set in this framework, what would be some of the measures used to evaluate improvements in health and development?
Having clear, well defined indicators that reflect health and wellbeing of the people and which can clearly be influenced through nutrition would help all parties to demonstrate the actual impact of what they do, including Nestlé.
What are the main interventions through which nutrition programmes can improve the health of the world's poorest, which are often those also infected with neglected tropical diseases?
A larger strategic approach tackling the nutrition issue from different angles (nutrition, water, hygiene and sanitation, infectious diseases control and so on), could maximize the effect of individual measures on people’s health.
How strong have the partnerships been between the nutrition and global health research and operational communities and what are some of the best partnerships currently?
We have recently reviewed public-private partnership models. These models are either centered around nutrition as a mean to promote and prevent health, or operate with a more medical angle focusing on nutrition as a medical solution. These two angles define the scope of the partnerships, in the first case the op-erational communities involved are more nutrition stakeholders, while in the latter more health care stakeholders. In terms of research and methodologies the most prominent and direct link is through public health nutrition, as here the scientific research methodologies are largely similar to public health.
Traditional partnership forms include for example coalitions, or innovation partnerships. The success of these considerably depends on how pragmatic, problem oriented and focused these partnerships are, and whether they can keep a good balance between pragmatism and a participatory approach. The best partnerships are those which can demonstrate real life effectiveness.
Are there specific groups or disciplines that you would like to develop more collaboration with in terms of improving the health and resilience of the world's poorest?
We are open and welcoming partnerships but it is not an easy endeavor. I believe strongly that interdisciplinary partnerships going beyond nutrition and reaching out to partners we may not immediately think of in the field of nutrition will yield the best results.
For more information please contact:
Public Health Nutrition