UBS Optimus Foundation Enters Global Nutrition Initiative

Tom Burroughes Group Editor 11 June 2013

UBS Optimus Foundation Enters Global Nutrition Initiative

UBS Optimus Foundation, the philanthropic organisation that recently opened an office in Hong Kong, announced today it is partnering with government and private donors in a global initiative to put nutrition at the centre of the development agenda.

The organisation plans to raise SFr65 million ($85.9 million) over the next eight years and intends to “dramatically improve children's nutrition, reduce stunting, and help prevent death from under-nutrition,” according to a statement from UBS.

The group joined other foundations ahead of this month’s Group of Eight summit to sign an agreement to put nutrition among the highest priorities on the development agenda. Preventable under-nutrition, the statement said, causes the death of more than 8,000 children every day. Among other effects, it is believed to cut African and Asian gross domestic product by up to 11 per cent a year.

At that meeting, the UBS Optimus Foundation said it will commit SFr15 million for nutrition-related projects in developing countries. In addition, it agreed to contribute to a novel "Nutrition for Growth Facility" announced during the June 8 meeting.

All donations from UBS clients which the foundation directs to the new facility will be doubled. Partners include the Children's Investment Fund Foundation and the Canadian and UK governments.

Double your money

"In effect, the UBS Optimus Foundation is announcing a double-your-money pledge drive and intends to raise up to 25 million additional Swiss francs over the next eight years, which, through the new agreement, will be matched by other funders to reach 50 million Swiss francs over and above the Foundation's current commitment of 15 million. The funds will be used to expand priority, evidence-based programmes; support innovations to deliver nutrition at scale; and strengthen nutrition governance and monitoring and evaluation systems," said Jamie Broderick, chief executive, UBS Wealth Management UK.

"The commitments made in London will have a significant impact on child survival, and help more children achieve their full potential. We stand at a historical threshold. The end of under-nutrition is possible," said Phyllis Costanza, CEO of the UBS Optimus Foundation.

Since its creation in 1999, the foundation has received more than 21,000 donations, raising SFr200 million to support more than 300 projects in 75 countries. It currently supports nutrition-related projects in 18 countries including, Uganda, Kenya and China.

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