UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025) discussed at High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York
19 JULY 2016 | NEW YORK
Ministers from around the world came together at an event entitled “Leaving no-one behind in the fight against malnutrition in all its forms” hosted by the governments of Germany and Uganda, in collaboration with WHO and the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, on the sidelines of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York. The event marked the launch of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025) and explored how governments around the world are working with their partners in sustainable development to improve nutrition among their citizens.
Panellists included high-level dignitaries from Ecuador, Finland, Germany, the Philippines, and Uganda, along with senior representatives of academia, civil society, business and the United Nations, examining nutrition’s transformative power to enable people to achieve their full potential.
They discussed progress and challenges in embedding nutrition in national strategies for development. Speakers highlighted ways to galvanize political attention, mobilize cross-sectoral action and multi-stakeholder collaboration, and drive accountability for improved nutrition.
The event was opened by Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, who argued that “nutrition is a maker and a marker of sustainable development. Twelve of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals contain indicators that track important inputs in nutrition”. He also called for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound commitments to address the need in hand”.
Ms Carla Mucavi, Director of the FAO Liaison Office in New York, speaking on behalf of the Director-General of FAO, Mr Graziano da Silva, recalled that although there has been significant progress in reducing undernourishment, stunting and wasting, the overall nutrition situation is still far from good: nearly 800 million people remain chronically undernourished; another 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies; and some 1.9 billion people are overweight, of which 600 million are obese. The only way to address these challenges is to work together until the goals are met.
Ugandan Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Mr Matia Kasaijja, shared the success factors from his country’s fight against malnutrition: political commitment, effective partnerships with key actors, use and mobilization of existing policy frameworks, and promotion of knowledge and information on nutrition.
Dr Klaus Heider, Director-General of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, underlined the importance of education, and called for more connections between education, food production, research and economic development systems. Finnish Minister of Agriculture and the Environment, Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen, stressed that environmental sustainability should be part of nutrition recommendations, giving the example of Nordic policies that favour climate-friendly food consumption.
Ms Helena Yanez Loza, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations, shared Ecuador’s experiences in improving nutrition through the promotion of healthy food and nutrition among children and adolescence and adopting new food labelling policies in 2014. The Philippines was represented by Ms Maria Bernadita T. Flores, Assistant Secretary of Health and Executive Director of the National Nutrition Council, who shared Philippines’ strategy of addressing nutrition as a broader development question rather than as a solitary intervention, and informed about the initiation of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition for 2017-2022 and its eventual integration in the Philippine Development Plan.
Other speakers included Jennifer Requejo from Global Nutrition Report; Ambassador Amira Gornass, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security; Ted Chaiban, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF; Marisa Macari, Coordinator of the Nutritional Health Research at El Poder del Consumidor; Marting Chungong, Secretary General Inter Parliamentary Union; Ruth Richardson, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food; Tania Strauss, Associate Director, Agriculture and Food Security Initiatives, World Economic Forum; and Zia Hyder, Senior Nutrition Specialist of the World Bank.
The event was moderated by Ms Gerda Verburg, Coordinator of the SUN Movement.