Breast Feeding and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
WBW2017 celebrates working together for the common good, which produces sustainable results, greater than the sum of our individual efforts.
Evidence on the benefits of breastfeeding is already available to us. We know that breastfeeding aids the survival of infants and helps them thrive, has long-term health benefits for women, yields economic benefits and enhances the wellbeing of all. The challenge for champions of breastfeeding is to translate globally agreed policies to positive action in our communities.
We learnt in WBW2016 how the protection, promotion and support for breastfeeding are a key to sustainable development. We grouped the 17 SDGs into four Thematic Areas that relate to each other and to breastfeeding. These four groups help us to define our work in the context of the SDGs. From this year onwards, they will also help us find others to work with.
Many hands make light work and each of us has a part to play. Let us start!
Starting with WBW 2017, we support WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) in creating an online platform to enable celebrants to work with others to achieve long-term goals. The online platform can help with the following:
1. Identify gaps and actions
The Resources section will have relevant information that can help identify gaps and ideas on how to address them.
2. Find potential partners
Find partners who wish to collaborate on common goals and actions.
3. Share and learn
Manage your collaboration more effectively. Share your experiences of working together and learn from others!
4. Assess and plan
Review your experience and achievements and prepare for future actions.
THEMATIC AREA 1: NUTRITION, FOOD SECURITY AND POVERTY REDUCTION
Breastfed infants are provided with optimal nutrition and protection against infections.
Breastmilk is a safe and secure source of food even in times of humanitarian crises.
Breastfeeding is a low cost way of feeding babies without burdening household budgets.
• Undernutrition, including sub-optimal breastfeeding, underlies 45% of all deaths of children under 5 annually.
• Not breastfeeding is associated with economic losses of about $302 billion annually or 0·49% of the global gross national income.
Here are the SDGs relevant to Thematic Area 1
THEMATIC AREA 2: SURVIVAL,HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Survival: Breastfeeding significantly improves the survival of infants, children and mothers.
Health and wellbeing: Breastfeeding significantly improves the health, development and wellbeing of infants and children as well as mothers, both in the short- and long-term.
• The financial cost of a program to implement the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in 214 countries is estimated at $130 per live birth. Investment in effective services to increase and sustain breastfeeding rates is likely to provide a return within a few years, possibly as little as one year.
• On average, babies who are breastfed have a 2.6-point higher intelligence quotient (IQ) than non-breastfed babies, with larger differences for longer durations of breastfeeding.
THEMATIC AREA 3: ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Environment: Breastmilk is a natural, renewable food that is environmentally safe: produced and delivered without pollution, packaging or waste.
Climate change: Formula production and consumption generates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which accelerate global warming.
• 720,450 tonnes of milk formula sold annually in 6 Asian countries generated almost 2.9 million tonnes of GHG. This is equivalent to nearly 7000 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle or 1.03 million tonnes of waste sent to landfill sites.
• It is estimated that more than 4000 litres of water are needed to produce 1 kg of breastmilk substitute powder.
THEMATIC AREA 4: WOMEN’S PRODUCTIVITY AND EMPLOYMENT
Women’s productivity: Employers benefit from having a more contented and productive workforce due to less employee absenteeism, increased loyalty and less staff turnover.
Employment: Parental protection and other workplace policies can enable women to combine breastfeeding with paid work.
• Every additional month of paid maternity leave decreases infant mortality rates by 13%.
• Only 53% of countries meet the ILO 14-week minimum standard for maternity leave.
Here are the SDGs relevant to Thematic Area 4