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Nutrition Decade: The momentum is building

After several rounds of consultation in 2016 to agree on the scope and the vision for the Nutrition Decade, FAO and WHO as co-conveners produced its first draft work programme. The work programme is designed to be a living document, building upon and connecting the independent initiatives of governments and their many partners and will be adapted according to needs and lessons learned.

To ensure that the work programme presented the compelling vision necessary to enable strategic interaction and mutual support across existing initiatives and programmes, several additional rounds of consultation took place. These include the UNSCN-led online consultation (30 January to 26 February), the CFS Open Ended Working Group on Nutrition (10 February), the Informal Briefing with the Permanent Representatives of FAO and WHO both in Rome and Geneva (27 February) and the Consultation meeting with Member States in Geneva (22 March 2017).

Some of the main highlights included:

  • There was overwhelming support for the opportunity provided by the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition to enhance coordination and cooperation amongst all actors, and drive integrated action across multiple sectors. With this, however, several asked for the lines of responsibility to be better defined, and for more explicit information about who is expected to do what and by when.
  • The need for leadership, coordination and implementation, specifically at country level was emphasized. Ending all forms of malnutrition requires bold, country-led leadership to shine a light on the pathways to coherent actions leading to results and impact. The coordination of these actions will help ensure that the final collective result is greater than the sum of the individual efforts. Through biannual reporting and course correction when necessary, the Work Programme’s strongest added value will be in its clear focus on consolidation and implementation.
  • A strong case was made for a transparent, inclusive, open-ended participatory processes throughout the Decade to ensure that all actors feel a sense of ownership, togetherness and to ensure that the voices and commitments of all actors are heard. Online consultations were given as an example, as was a publically accessible repository of commitments to strengthen accountability. An online dashboard would allow for targets and performance to be tracked.  It would also help to ensure that double counting of nutrition sensitive actions are avoided.
  • Priority also needs to be given to data collection for effective evidence-based policy making, which would help us understand what people are eating and why. Concrete measures to make our food systems and our direct food environment work better for nutrition are called for. Monitoring and evaluation of interventions to ensure that they are cost-effective, sustainable and are reaching their end target is essential.
  • Finally, others pointed to essential sectors that are missing, such as water, hygiene and sanitation, the nexus between humanitarian and development, and the challenges posed by climate change on food variability and nutrition security. The sense of urgency to act to prevent increases in overweight and obesity due to low quality diets was also emphasized.

You can access the outcomes of the first online consultation that served to help shape the Nutrition Decade here. Comments received through the FSN Forum on its first draft work programme are here.

The deliberations of these consultations will serve to strengthen a final work programme of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition which will be made available to Member States during the World Health Assembly (May 2017) and the FAO Conference (July 2017).

As all the initiatives are coordinated and the energies align, the drumbeat of the Nutrition Decade gets louder!

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