Nutrition Day and the 44th session of the Committee on World Food Security

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has been ramping up its focus on nutrition since 2015. The 44th session was a testament to those efforts with a full day focused solely on nutrition. This decision was a direct consequence of the CFS Nutrition Strategy endorsed in CFS 43 (2016) and the decision to have specific targeted nutrition work.

“Nutrition Day”, held on 10 October, provided a space for FAO and WHO to report on progress made on ICN2 commitments and the additional opportunity provided under the Nutrition Decade. It also welcomed the launch of the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition Report Nutrition and Food System. The report highlighted priority areas for action along food environments that affect what people chose to buy and eat. Examples include eliminating food swamps; increasing public procurement schemes; thinking about taxes for sugar sweet and beverages; using price promotions, product placement, regulations on advertising and transparency of information on labelling; considering better use of remittances from overseas; certifying food quality and earmarking agricultural subsidies for healthier foods. Supply will answer to demand, therefore, awareness raising campaigns should help move consumers towards healthier diets to influence production patterns. Tools such as Food Based Sustainable Dietary Guidelines should also work to highlight traditional cultures and building nutritional literacy.

A multi-stakeholder dialogue on the challenge of investing more in healthy food systems also took place at CFS44. One outcome of the CFS nutrition work will be voluntary guidelines for nutrition, food systems and food environments to be presented to the CFS plenary in 2019. The CFS Technical Task Team on Nutrition will prepare the technical background to inform the development of Terms of Reference (TORs) in coming weeks for the OEWG on Nutrition meeting in February 2018. Current members of the TTT are: WHO, WFP, IFAD, FAO, UNICEF, civil society and private sector representative and UNSCN. The next meeting of the OEWG on Nutrition is set for 5 February 2018.

UNSCN members were active throughout the event making statements in plenary and through the hosting of side events. Two such discussions focused on the need to align agriculture and health actions to better shape the food environment in support of sustainable food systems for healthy diets. Examples from Ecuador, Italy, Chile, the U.K., Brazil and non-state actors demonstrated how the importance of taking a holistic approach to sustainable food production that considers issues such as quality and quantity of diets, food preference and food access is essential to create a secure food environments. Panelists explained the need for a crosscutting approach involving all sectors, and for regulatory measures to go hand in hand with a monitoring and evaluation mechanism.

At the end of the CFS, H. E. Amina Gornass stepped down as CFS Chair. H. E. Amina Gornass was applauded for having significantly raised the profile of the CFS and its policy products within the UN System in New York and Geneva, and increased their uptake in country. UNSCN particularly thanked her for helping to foster greater collaboration between the CFS and UNSCN to advance this agenda and ensure the strongest possible result. The new CFS Chair is H.E. Mario Arvelo, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to FAO.

Read more about the nutrition outcomes at CFS44 through the DRAFT DECISION - CFS Engagement in Advancing Nutrition Including the Decade of Action on Nutrition.

Photo by ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto

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