World Breastfeeding Week is commemorated every year from 1-7 of August all over the world to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies (maternal and neonatal health) around the world.
THEMATIC AREA 3: ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE
CONVERSATIONS BEYOND BREASTFEEDING
The health of our planet is affected by the way babies are fed. Breastmilk is a natural, renewable food that is produced and delivered without pollution, packaging or waste. The breastmilk substitute industry, on the other hand, carries a negative environmental impact that is not commonly recognised. Safeguarding breastfeeding links human life with the wellbeing of our planet in a powerful way. It is time for conversations about breastfeeding to go beyond nutrition and health.
The health of our future generations is affected by the health of our planet. Exposure to hazardous working conditions including pesticides impacts negatively on a woman’s ability to breastfeed safely. Organisations such as the Pesticide Action Network work to highlight the dangers of working and breastfeeding in polluted environments.
To start, we must make common cause with groups working on environmental issues and make the link between breastfeeding and climate change. We must champion the message that breastfeeding contributes to reducing carbon footprint. Younger generations must be informed of the negative environmental impact of breastmilk substitutes.
Advocacy messages need to include environmental issues like curbing overuse of pesticides and fertilisers. Partnerships with grassroots organisations that work among poor and marginalised groups should be prioritised. Lastly, the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is a framework to regulate the formula feeding industry. This Code helps to safeguard both the environment and the right to breastfeed. We must work to ensure that it is implemented and monitored effectively.
1. Use links between breastfeeding and the environment as part of your advocacy
2. Normalise breastfeeding as a sustainable method of feeding infants
3. Raise awareness on how breastfeeding contributes to reducing carbon footprint
4. Talk to youth about the environmental impact of formula feeding
5. Ensure that the Code is fully implemented and monitored regularly