What we do
To deliver on its four strategic objectives, UNSCN formulates a biennial work plan and related budget in order to specify the actual priorities, activities, targets and expected results. For the year 2016, the work plans are presented in the Strategic Plan (Annex 6 and 7). The main activities are:
The Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-2025
On 1st of April, the GA proclaimed the Decade of Action on Nutrition, 2016-2025.
UNSCN, together with its members, welcomes this important step towards mobilising action to eradicate malnutrition in all its forms in all countries.
The Decade of Action on Nutrition is a commitment of Member States to undertake ten years of sustained and coherent implementation of policies and programmes, following the recommendations and commitments of the ICN2 Framework for Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Decade will increase visibility of nutrition action at the highest level and ensure coordination, strengthen multi-sectoral collaboration, create synergies and measure progress towards sustainable food systems and food and nutrition security for all.
Why do we need a Decade of Action on Nutrition?
Progress to reduce undernourishment and micronutrient deficiencies has been far too slow and uneven across regions, countries and populations groups. The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing in nearly all countries. On the other end, 793 million people remain chronically undernourished, 159 million children under 5 years of age are stunted, approximately 50 million children under 5 years are wasted, over two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies and 1.9 billion people are affected by overweight of which around 500 million are obese.
The resolution recognises the need to eradicate hunger and prevent all forms of malnutrition worldwide.
The Decade of Action on Nutrition will provide an umbrella for a wide group of actors to work together to address these and other pressing nutrition issues in order to achieve the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda.
The General Assembly call upon WHO and FAO to lead the implementation of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition, in collaboration with the World Food Programme, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the United Nations Children's Fund, and to identify and develop a work programme, using coordination mechanisms such as UNSCN, the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition.
Michel Mordasini, Chair of the UNSCN: “UNSCN stands ready to work along with WHO, FAO in collaboration with IFAD, WFP, UNICEF and other UN agencies, to make the Decade a success!”
Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) Follow-Up
Implementing the Framework for Action
The Rome Declaration on Nutrition reaffirms the right of everyone to have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food, and governments committed to preventing malnutrition in all its forms, including undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and obesity. The Framework for Action recognizes that governments have the primary role and responsibility for addressing nutrition issues and challenges, in dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders. Building on the Declaration's commitments, the Framework sets out 60 recommended actions that governments may incorporate into their national nutrition, health, agriculture, education, development and investment plans and consider when negotiating international agreements to achieve better nutrition for all.
Turning the Recommendations in the Framework for Action into Initiatives
As WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, and FAO Director-General, Dr José Graziano da Silva said, “it is our responsibility to transform commitment into concrete results.”
The UNSCN developed three technical discussion papers as the first part of a project funded by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany through the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). TThese papers are used as a basis to discuss selected ICN2 recommendations and suggest concrete and context specific nutrition-based initiatives in different countries.
- Discussion Paper - Enhancing Coherence between Trade Policy and Nutrition Action
- Discussion Paper - Investments for a Healthy Food System
- Discussion Paper - Nutrition Impact Assessment Tool
The UNSCN as a member of the CFS Advisory Group
The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) was set up in 1974 as an inter-governmental body to serve as a forum in the United Nations System to review and follow up food security policies.
The vision of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is to be the most inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together in a coordinated way to ensure food security and nutrition for all. CFS reports to the UN General Assembly through ECOSOC and also to FAO Conference. UNSCN has been a member of the CFS Advisory Group since 2010, recognising UNSCN's special role as facilitating coordination in the UN, with its own stakeholder consultation mechanisms.
As a participant in the Advisory Group to the CFS Bureau, and through its participation in technical task teams supporting CFS work, UNSCN will continue to play the role of nutrition advocate, communicator, catalyst and bridge builder towards the CFS community and among its several stakeholders.
Through participating in the CFS, the UNSCN establishes a two-way communication avenue between the food security and nutrition constituencies by:
- Exchanging information on nutrition with the food security constituency and bringing food security considerations to the attention of the nutrition constituency;
- Encouraging and providing advice so that nutrition considerations are included in all CFS work streams;
- Bringing to the attention of the CFS Member States and other stakeholders new nutrition-related issues as they emerge;
- Avoiding duplication of efforts related to improving food and nutrition security globally.
“The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) strongly re-affirmed everyone’s right to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food. By working together, UNSCN and CFS contribute to realize this right.” Ambassador Amira Gornass, Chair of CFS.
UNSCN as a member of the Interagency Task force on NCD’s (IATF) :
UNSCN is member of the the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (Task Force), The IATF looks to increase awareness on NCDs and advocates for ever greater attention and mobilization of resources to combat NCDs.
Global nutrition targets
Countries are facing complex overlays of connected malnutrition burdens that need concentrated action at the policy, health system and community levels. One out of three people in the world suffer from at least one form of malnutrition (GNR 2015). In 2015 the world agreed to eliminate all forms of malnutrition by 2030. To accelerate the process towards reaching this goal, the United Nations have adopted the first ever UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, from 2016-2025.. In the years running up to 2016, several nutrition targets were agreed, including recommendations on how to reach them. Still there is a lack of progress towards their achievement. If current trends continue we will end up with more instead of less overweight people by 2030 and the elimination of anemia among women would not happen before 2080. The world needs to step up its efforts to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms. More sectors, more actors and more countries need to be involved. Not just the health sector or agriculture sector, not just low-income countries, not just people who used to work on nutrition before.
WHA and the 2025 nutrition targets
The World Health Assembly (WHA) universally agreed in 2012 to endorse a set of six global nutrition targets for improving maternal, infant and young child nutrition by 2025, specifically to:
- Reduce by 40 % the number of children under 5 who are stunted;
- Achieve a 50 % reduction in the rate of anaemia in women of reproductive age;
- Achieve a 30 % reduction in the rate of infants born low birth weight;
- Ensure that there is no increase in the rate of children who are overweight;
- Increase to at least 50 % the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months; and
- Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5 percent.
Currently, the world is off track to meet all six WHA global nutrition targets. For this reason, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed a series of six policy briefs that are linked to each of the global targets. These briefs can guide national and local policy-makers on what actions should be taken at scale in order to achieve the targets. Recognizing that the six targets are interlinked, the purpose of the briefs is to consolidate the evidence around which interventions and areas of investment need to be scaled-up and guide decision-makers on what actions need to be taken in order to achieve real progress toward improving maternal, infant and young child nutrition.
The six policy briefs are followed by an upcoming series on seven issues relative to the implementation and equity considerations; it will be aimed at programme and project managers, but equally interesting for policy-makers who need to maintain a dialogue with managers working in the field.
Below are the briefs:
WHA 2025 nutrition targets policy briefs
Noncommunicable diseases (NCD’s)
The global health threat posed by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is enormous. NCDs are responsible for 63% of 57 million deaths worldwide. They are disproportionately high in lower and middle income countries (LMIC) and populations. In 2008, nearly 80% of NCD deaths - 29 million- occurred in low and middle income countries, with 29% of deaths occurring below the age of sixty. Total NCD deaths are projected to rise to 52 million by 2030; furthermore, NCDs are projected to cause almost three quarters as many deaths as communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional diseases by 2020 and to exceed them as the most common causes of death by 2030.
NCDs and nutrition are closely linked; underweight, overweight and obesity, have a direct impact on the global rise in NCDs. While undernutrition kills in early life, it can also lead to increased risk of NCDs and death later in life.
In light of this, the UNSCN has created a virtual platform for sharing ideas, knowledge and experience on how to make nutrition considerations more central to NCD action on the ground.
The objectives of the Nutrition & NCDs discussion group are to:
- Raise awareness on the importance of nutrition for combating non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
- Call for action to scale up nutrition and jointly tackle undernutrition and obesity and diet-related chronic diseases in low- and middle-income countries.
- Contribute to building programming and policy development capacities of various groups of stakeholders in these countries and globally.
Time-bound activities – Focus on new and emerging nutrition-issues
Identifying new and emerging nutrition-related issues is one of the UNSCN strategic objectives. Therefore, UNSCN keeps abreast of global trends and of any progress made in the nutrition field as they relate to the 2030 Agenda. The UNSCN puts its intellectual capacity at its Members disposal who can then use this as a basis to continue the dialogue amongst each other.