Sweet move:

Ann Veneman, controversial former Executive Director of Unicef, joins Nestlé Board

Ann Veneman, Unicef executive director from 2005 to 2010, will join the Nestlé board of directors next month. In the articles below understand the implications of her shocking career move from an organisation that supports breastfeeding to one that undermines breastfeeding.

From India Today - http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/Story/131314/columns/a-sweet-move-from-unicef-to-nestle.html

A ‘sweet’ move from Unicef to Nestle

March 3, 2011

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has just released a glossy report on the state of the world’s children. Senior officials of the UN body made the right noises about children, the need to improve their nutritional status and so on, at media dos in several important capitals across the globe.

At a similar occasion a couple of years ago, Ann Veneman - who was Executive Director of the agency till April 2010 - had articulated Unicef’s position on how exclusive breastfeeding for toddlers is critical to combat hunger and promote child survival. Post-retirement the UN official has undergone a change of mind.

She will now be on the board of a company which has been accused of subverting efforts to promote breastfeeding by flouting laws in order to market its formula foods. Yes, Veneman is joining the Board of Directors of Switzerland-based food giant - Nestlé.

From World Public Health Nutrition Association - http://www.wphna.org/2011_mar_hp0_news.htm

Ann Veneman. USDA. UNICEF. SCN. Nestlé Public-private partnerships personified

March, 2011

Ann Veneman, UNICEF executive director 2005-2010, is to become a member of the main board of Nestlé, effective next month. This news has shocked some in our profession, and has confirmed the cynical opinion of others. Her appointment in 2005 to head UNICEF as its executive director was at the time welcomed by some senior UNICEF staff, who saw her as a political heavy-hitter, able to lever support on behalf of the world’s children at the highest level. Between 2006 and 2009 she was also chair of the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN), with which many Association members are or have been associated.

In December 2009, when she was about to step down from the UNICEF post, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “She has fulfilled her mandate with immense dedication, and I have been impressed by her extraordinary energy and determination to improve children’s health, education and well-being around the world. Under her leadership, UNICEF has become a catalyst for global action to help children reach their full potential, promoting collaborations that deliver the best possible results for children based on expert knowledge, sound evidence and data... Her legacy is an organization that is financially and intellectually strong and well-equipped to meet the challenges children face in the twenty-first century”.

Dr Ban might not be quite as fulsome now, knowing that she will now be playing a leading part in the policies and strategies of the world’s biggest manufacturer of artificial baby formula. There again, as a fervent supporter of public-private partnerships, maybe he would not cool any of his warm words.

Elisabeth Sterken
Director INFACT Canada
esterken@infactcanada.ca