International Baby Food Action Network
IBFAN welcomes the opportunity to comment on the draft strategy that suggests new approaches to change the “the way we manage our environment with respect to health and well-being”.
In the case of breastfeeding much more should be done to protect, promote and support it. Breastfeeding, a practice that has no carbon footprint, contributes to water conservation and helps in the reduction of air pollution is all too often ignored by conservationists.
Meanwhile, global sales of breastmilk substitutes increase rapidly every year, boosted by sophisticated marketing against which breastfeeding cannot compete. These products are, of course, necessary for babies who are not breastfed, but the fact is they need energy to manufacture, materials for packaging, fuel for transport distribution and water, fuel and cleaning agents for daily preparation and use and generate Green House Gases. More than 4000 litres of water are estimated to be needed along the production pathway to produce just 1 kg of BMS powder.
If breastfeeding was considered a public health intervention for climate change prevention and mitigation perhaps more would be done to end misleading marketing of baby food companies and to support women who want to breastfeed with imaginative maternity protection.
The protection of breastfeeding contributes to the goal mentioned in the draft strategy of focusing on primary prevention measures to achieve UHC and is a lifeline in emergencies. Climate change is linked to extreme weather conditions and environmental health emergencies needs positive action by governments to be protected.
At the very minimum all governments should fully implement the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and relevant WHA Resolutions. Goal 12 of the draft strategy, on Governance, should require that national and local governments set up proper safeguards against conflicts of interest and commercial influence when facilitating “cross-sectorial cooperation. Thank you