International Conference on Nutrition Bulletin
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Volume 226 Number 1 - Monday, 24 November 2014
SUMMARY OF THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON NUTRITION
19-21 NOVEMBER 2014

The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) convened at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, from 19-21 November 2014. Held under the theme, “Better Nutrition, Better Lives,” the conference was jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO). It aimed to address global nutrition issues and challenges, propose a flexible policy framework to address nutrition challenges, and identify priorities for enhanced international cooperation on nutrition.

ICN2 brought together over 2200 participants, including senior national policymakers from agriculture, health and other relevant ministries and agencies, representatives from UN agencies and other intergovernmental organizations, civil society, including non-governmental organizations and researchers, farmer organizations, private sector academics and the media.

The conference reviewed progress made towards improving nutrition since the first International Conference on Nutrition (ICN1) in 1992, including country-level achievements in scaling up nutrition through direct nutrition interventions and nutrition-enhancing policies and programmes. It also reflected on new challenges and opportunities for improving nutrition presented by changes in the global economy, the environment and in food systems, and by advances in science and technology. ICN2 identified policy options for improving nutrition, and aimed to build on ongoing global political processes and initiatives in order to contribute to the post-2015 development agenda.

ICN2 endorsed a political document, the Rome Declaration on Nutrition, and an accompanying technical Framework for Action to guide the Declaration’s implementation. The Framework for Action provides a list of 60 policy and strategy recommendations for use by governments, acting together with other stakeholders.

ICN2’s outcome will contribute to the UN Secretary-General’s call for policy coherence at the global, regional, national and sub-national levels and to global partnerships for development at all levels. It will also contribute to achieving the “Zero Hunger Challenge,” the UN Secretary-General’s call to leaders made at the Rio+20 Summit.

ICN2 consisted of plenary sessions where, during the general debate, participants heard statements by His Holiness Pope Francis and Queen Letizia of Spain, among others. Ministers and heads of delegations, and representatives of UN agencies, international and regional organizations, civil society and the private sector also made statements.

A series of roundtables also convened. Roundtable 1 addressed nutrition in the post-2015 development agenda. Roundtable 2 addressed improving policy coherence for nutrition, which included panels on coherence between economic policies and healthy changes in diets, policy coherence for nutrition-sensitive agriculture, and nutrition in all sectors. Roundtable 3 addressed governance and accountability for nutrition.

Numerous side events were also held during the conference, including on: targets and accountability for nutrition and the post-2015 development agenda; the Global Nutrition Report and the Global Hunger Index; addressing overweight and obesity; and the Expo Milano 2015.

Pre-session events included: a Civil Society Event on 17-18 November; and a Parliamentarian Event and a Private Sector Event on 18 November.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ICN2 PROCESS

In the 22 years since ICN1 met in Rome in 1992, global economy, food systems and the nutritional status of populations have changed markedly. While the overall nutritional status of the world’s population has improved since ICN1, with millions lifted out of poverty and hunger, more people eating better and meeting their nutritional needs, and people living longer due to improvements in water and sanitation, health services and rising incomes, not everyone has benefited. Progress in reducing hunger and undernutrition has been uneven and slow, and although the number of those suffering from hunger has decreased from over one billion in 1992, approximately 805 million people remain undernourished and two  billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Many countries are also facing increasing problems of overweight and obesity, and the incidence of diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancers, is increasing globally.

In light of this, it was deemed necessary to adopt a new policy framework and more appropriate responses in order to keep nutrition high on the international and national development agendas. A series of preparatory sessions were convened in the lead-up to ICN2, to bring together experts and stakeholders in the fields of health and agriculture. These included seven regional and sub-regional preparatory meetings from May 2011 through March 2013. These meetings resulted in the preparation of technical papers and case studies to identify best practices and lessons learned for improving nutrition. The 38th FAO Conference held in June 2013 supported the convening of ICN2, and agreed to hold a Preparatory Technical Meeting from 13-15 November 2013. An ICN2 Joint Secretariat, comprised of WHO and FAO staff, was established, with the FAO Council requesting it to develop a roadmap for an intergovernmental process for consultations with civil society and the private sector, and encouraging the preparation of a draft outcome document for ICN2.

In January 2014, the 134th session of the WHO Executive Board called on the WHO and FAO Directors-General to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) to prepare the outcome documents, and to explore the possibility of convening an open-ended working group (OEWG) to finalize them.

The JWG, which was made up of representatives of the seven FAO Regional Groups and the six WHO Regions, prepared a draft political outcome and framework for action during several meetings held from March to September 2014, via videoconference.

Following the JWG meetings, a face-to-face OEWG meeting was then held in two parts: in Geneva from 22-23 September 2014 and in Rome from 10-12 October 2014. During this meeting, negotiations were concluded and the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action were agreed and forwarded to ICN2.

All stakeholders, including civil society, research organizations, academia and private sector organizations, were consulted on the documents through web-based public consultations.

Dialogues on Nutrition: Also in the lead-up to ICN2, three public discussions were convened, designed to raise awareness and stimulate debate around key nutrition issues. The discussions, ‘Communicating to Inspire Change: Dialogues on Nutrition,’ met at FAO Headquarters in Rome. The first dialogue, held on 14 October 2014, brought together civil society and private sector representatives to discuss the importance of effective partnerships in solving the challenge of ensuring adequate nutrition for the world’s population.

The second dialogue was held on 22 October 2014 and focused on the experience and perspective of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) on the issues of food security and nutrition. The third dialogue was convened on 30 October 2014 and focused on the experience and perspectives of G-77/China countries.

Pre-Session Events: A Civil Society Event, which convened from 17-18 November 2014, provided the opportunity for civil society organizations working on food and nutrition issues to: evaluate the ICN2 process and outcome documents; discuss and agree on a statement to be read in the ICN2 plenary; and address mechanisms to follow up on ICN2 decisions, in order to ensure accountability.

A Private Sector Event on 18 November 2014 provided a space for the private sector to discuss and agree on a position to be delivered to ICN2. A Parliamentary Event also convened on 18 November 2014 under the theme “Parliaments for Better Nutrition.” Organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the event focused on parliamentarian engagement in ensuring that the necessary legislative tools on food security and nutrition are put in place, and to facilitate carrying out, at the country level, the political commitments in the Rome Declaration.

Regional media workshops were also organized in: Accra, Ghana; Bangkok, Thailand; and Cairo, Egypt.

REPORT OF THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON NUTRITION

INAUGURAL CEREMONY  

The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) opened on Wednesday morning, 19 November 2014. Gianni Ghisi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Italy to FAO, read a statement on behalf of Giorgio Napolitano, President of Italy, who expressed hope that ICN2 and the Universal Exposition in Milan 2015 (Expo Milano 2015) dedicated to nutrition and sustainable development would concretely contribute to international mobilization against the plague of hunger and malnutrition.

Paolo Gentiloni, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation stressed the importance of a people-focused vision to encompass all aspects of nutrition, which must integrate policy to address climate change, pandemics and international crises, and strengthen women’s empowerment.

Via video message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that since the Zero Hunger Challenge, more than 100 countries have committed to eliminate hunger by 2025.

Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO, urged making environmental policy an integral part of the ICN2 discussions, and warned that obesity problems are significantly increasing health care costs. She called for the food industry to produce more healthy food and stop selling unhealthy and convenient food. She announced that World Health Day 2015 would focus on food safety.

José Graziano da Silva, Director-General, FAO, noted that, while hunger remains a significant issue, the world is also facing the emerging challenges of obesity and the double burden of nutrition. He said that having enough food for everyone to adequately eat does not translate into healthy nutrition, and emphasized the need to “make food systems healthier” from production to consumption. He hoped targets would be announced at ICN2 that go beyond what has already been agreed.

Ignazio Marino, Mayor of Rome, emphasized the importance of family farming and the role of small family farms, noting they support sustainable and local agriculture, biodiversity and hunger reduction.

OPENING OF THE CONFERENCE

ELECTION OF CHAIR AND VICE-CHAIRS: Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni was elected by acclamation to serve as ICN2 Chair. The following were elected as ICN2 Vice-Chairs: for Africa, Pinkie Manamolele, Minister of Health, Lesotho; for Asia, Rajata Rajatanavin, Minister of Public Health, Thailand; for the Group of Latin American and the Caribbean Countries (GRULAC), Germán Rafael González Díaz, Secretary of Food and Nutrition Security, Guatemala; for the Near East, Ahmed Al-Bakri, Undersecretary for Agriculture, Oman; for North America, Lois Brown, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Canada; and for the Southwest Pacific, Ropati Le Mamea, Minister of Agriculture, Samoa.

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND TIMETABLE: Delegates then adopted the agenda and timetable for the conference (ICN2 2014/1_Rev.1 and ICN2 2014/INF/1 Rev.1).

ELECTION OF THE CHAIRS OF THE ROUNDTABLES: Delegates elected the Roundtable Co-Chairs, as follows: for Roundtable 1, Charles McClain, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Liberia, and Anne Peniston, US Agency for International Development (USAID); for Roundtable 2, Igor Radziewicz-Winnicki, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Health, Poland, and Tito Pizzaro, Ministry of Health, Chile; and for Roundtable 3, Louis Lahoud, Director-General, Ministry of Agriculture, Lebanon, and Hans Brattskar, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Norway.

ADOPTION OF THE CONFERENCE OUTCOME DOCUMENTS: Chair Gentiloni then introduced the Rome Declaration on Nutrition (ICN2 2014/2) and the Framework for Action on Nutrition (ICN2 2014/3 Corr.1), which were adopted by acclamation. While welcoming the adoption of the outcome documents, Canada, the US and Algeria said they would submit explanatory notes to be included in the ICN2 meeting report.

GENERAL DEBATE

WEDNESDAY, 19 NOVEMBER: During the general debate, participants welcomed the adoption of the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action. They pointed to problems related to, inter alia, obesity and NCDs, and the challenge of integrating into post-2015 development agenda, the importance of small farmers and women in food systems.

African Union (AU) Nutrition Champion King Letsie III, Lesotho, noted the multiple burdens of malnutrition in Africa, including stunting, micronutrient deficiencies, obesity and diet-related NCDs. He noted that African leaders: declared 2014 as the “Year of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security”; renewed their commitment to the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme; and adopted a common African position on the post-2015 development agenda.

Mohamed Gharib Bilal, Vice President, Tanzania, underscored that despite commitments made on nutrition in 1992 at ICN1, achieving global nutrition remains insufficient.

Princess Haya bint Al Hussein of Jordan, Sheikha of Dubai and UN Messenger of Peace, discussed her work in addressing hunger, and recalled her meeting with a woman “who did not name her baby girl because she knew she would die” from malnutrition. She urged spending as much on nutrition as is spent on weapons.

Italy, speaking for the European Union (EU), called on national governments to take responsibility for implementing nutrition policy and called on recipient countries to integrate nutrition into their national development plans. She encouraged integrating: sustainable nutrition-sensitive food systems into FAO policies; and nutrition into the post-2015 development agenda. Speaking on behalf of Italy, she said malnutrition also affects developed countries and must be addressed through national health policies.

Brazil drew attention to his country’s Zero Hunger Strategy and a 2011 Presidential pledge to eradicate poverty, the success of which he said depended upon strong civil society participation, transparency and accountability.

Yemen noted that security concerns influence malnutrition and that fighting malnutrition is costly. The Netherlands stressed the role of farmers in food security and nutrition, and emphasized: investment in farmers to increase productivity, profits and quality; the importance of addressing climate change; and the need to reduce food losses and waste.

Timor-Leste described a national action plan to end hunger and a national policy on food security in his country. Kanayo F. Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development, highlighted stronger country commitments and international attention to nutrition since 1992. He said it was however a “tragic irony” that the very people who produce the food and feed the nation are often the poor and hungry. He emphasized that investing in better production, processing and storage, and more diverse and nutritious crops, as well as empowering and educating women, decrease malnutrition.

Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP), underscored that women are central to achieving nutrition goals, and stressed that interventions must reach young children, mothers and other women. She said stunting not only limits children’s potential today, but increases the risk of developing obesity in the future. Urging against creating additional layers of bureaucracy, Cousin called for frameworks that support country and community level action and results. Quoting Nelson Mandela, she said “it always seems impossible until it is done.”

Iraq lamented that desertification, conflict-induced rural exodus and terrorism have exacerbated already existing challenges in addressing food insecurity. Botswana said that since ICN1, his country has introduced policies to promote breastfeeding and integrated measures to combat malnutrition in its social programmes.

The Russian Federation noted: progress in healthy diets, including increased consumption of fish, meat and fruit in his country, and said that 40% of infant food is now fortified with vitamins. Bolivia noted that her country’s legislative bodies have been working with civil society to implement nutrition-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Eritrea highlighted his country’s National Food Security Strategy, which includes provisions for making microcredit available to small-scale agricultural producers. Bhutan said access to food and nutrients are basic human rights.

Armenia noted his country’s focus on new technologies to increase food productivity through the study of best international practices. Kuwait drew attention to his country’s legislation that targets national food security and nutrition among children, the disabled, elderly and women.

Bangladesh drew attention to his government’s Vitamin A supplement programme which aims to decrease deficiency in primary schools. San Marino stressed the importance of enhancing women’s rights and their access to microcredit and land in tackling food insecurity.

The United States said ICN2 should feed into the post-2015 development agenda. He discussed his country’s supplemental nutrition assistance programme and the use of electronic food vouchers to make healthy food more accessible. He said an open and transparent global trading system was essential.

The Central African Republic announced its intention to launch a national investment plan for agriculture and nutrition. Mexico highlighted his government’s National Crusade Against Hunger, which seeks to eliminate child malnutrition, increase food production, reduce food waste and losses, and enhance community participation.

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic said her government intends to increase investment in a multisectoral approach to food security. Iran discussed achieving nutrition and food security by improving crop yield, efficiency and reducing chemical residues in food, and acknowledged the importance of South-South cooperation in food security, and the key role that FAO and WHO continue to play in capacity building in nutrition. 

Indonesia stressed the importance of mainstreaming nutrition into development, and announced her government’s plan to provide universal health coverage by 2019. Belarus warned that the increasing military strife and weapons development around the world pose additional barriers to food security.

Sierra Leone pointed to his country’s National Nutrition Plan 2012-2017, which includes measures to promote breastfeeding, local foods and food fortification. Reiterating that global food production has significantly outpaced population growth, Venezuela said food insecurity is an accessibility, not an availability, crisis. 

Canada noted its CAN$3.5 billion commitment to maternal, newborn and child health in its International Development Plan for 2015-2020. She called for increasing the availability of key nutrition data. The Dominican Republic emphasized the importance of integral approach, rules and regulations that protect fair trade, broad participation of all sectors and South-South cooperation.

Hungary called for including nutrition in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and promoting it in the post-2015 development agenda. She highlighted Hungary’s efforts to increase locally-produced and organic products, and encourage consumers to choose drinking water over soft drinks.

Pakistan said states were responsible for providing for those in need, and stressed the right to adequate food and nutrition. Finland noted the provision of free school meals since the end of World War II, and said public health must be protected from undue influence or conflict of interest.

Israel called for deep social changes, including reducing sodium intake, taxing unhealthy food, promoting physical activity and taking collective action to address nutrition issues. Sweden noted the steps undertaken by the Swedish National Food Agency to define environmentally-sound dietary guidelines.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) said trade rules can play a positive role in nutrition and emphasized the importance of open trade for development. He acknowledged that “trade should not trump health,” opposed trade-restrictive government interventions and supported international standards when appropriate and effective.

Special Address: Melinda Gates, Co-Chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pointing to the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, lamented that less than 1% of development assistance is directed towards nutrition and called for more resources. She said building a food system to ensure year round access to safe, diverse and affordable diets for everyone was vital. She emphasized that breastfeeding, immediately after birth and exclusively, would save thousands of lives.

All statements for 19 November are available at: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/icn2/wednesday-19-november/en/.

THURSDAY, 20 NOVEMBER: Statement of His Holiness Pope Francis: FAO Executive-Director Graziano da Silva, in introducing Pope Francis, said that the eradication of hunger and misery must be the basis of a better future for all. He said “misery is not destiny” and hunger is avoidable.

Pope Francis said the right to food would only be guaranteed if there is also concern for the person who suffers from hunger and malnutrition. He said malnutrition and hunger are hindered by market priorities, the primacy of profits and financial speculation, and called for dignity not charity.

Noting the paradox of food abundance and continuing hunger, Pope Francis called for a more just distribution of the world’s food. He lamented a lack of solidarity where societies are often characterized by individualism and division. Pope Francis called for freedom from economic and political pressure in order to protect Mother Earth, mentioned upcoming climate change meetings in Peru and France, and said that “God always forgives, men forgive at times, but the Earth never forgives.”

Special Guests: Queen Letizia of Spain said multinational corporations must work with international agencies to promote public health, and called for a “marriage” between commercial and economic interests, and political interests. She said malnutrition is the main cause of disease in the world and underscored that no country has managed to reverse the obesity epidemic in all age categories.

Nadine Heredia, First Lady of Peru and Special Ambassador to the FAO, emphasized focusing on: farming families; genetic diversity of seeds; retention of traditional knowledge; and the need to promote a multilateral trade system that is open, non-discriminatory and fair with people and their health, and has the right to food at its center.

General Debate:Germany welcomed the Rome Declaration’s emphasis on gearing food systems towards nutrition and strengthening their role in fighting infectious diseases. He emphasized agriculture and the key role of small-scale family farmers, and improving knowledge about a healthy diet, hygiene and care, and a healthy lifestyle. He urged incorporating ICN2 outcomes into the post-2015 development agenda.

Malaysia emphasized the importance of input from relevant stakeholders and civil society, and ensuring that adequate food supply is balanced with a nutritional food supply. Austria highlighted a national programme providing free nutrition counseling to women with newborns.

Cape Verde discussed the role of public policies in addressing hunger and nutrition, noting that cutting oil subsidies in her country had generated budgetary savings that were then used on social policies and programmes.

Ireland expressed support for WHO recommendations on diet and health, and highlighted its commitment to intensify food production in a sustainable manner. Samoa commented that aggressive marketing targets poor people in nations like his, leading to unhealthy food choices, and noted policy goals to combat this problem.

Ukraine discussed balancing nutrition in diets and efforts to contribute to global food security through exports. Mozambique expressed its commitment to establish a mechanism for implementation of the Rome Declaration and its Framework for Action.

The UK drew attention to the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, noting its efforts to assist governments in ensuring that food and agricultural policies contribute to improving nutrition.

Japan said that certain solutions to tackling overnutrition are found in its traditional low-fat culinary culture, which includes dashi and fermented foods. Nigeria expressed support for enhancing large-scale food fortification to operationalize high-energy food plants in Africa.

Spain called for integrating access to food as a human right into the post-2015 development agenda. Guinea expressed hope that the Rome Declaration would raise awareness of the need to mainstream nutrition into sustainable development programmes.

Moldova underlined its initiative to ban the selling of unhealthy food in schools. Georgia highlighted its early warning system for food distribution in emergency situations. Uganda highlighted its five-year Nutrition Action Plan for 2011-2016.

The EU pledged to decrease the number of children suffering from stunting by seven million by 2025, and to allocate €3.5 billion to nutrition from 2015-2020. He urged recipient countries to make nutrition a national priority. The Philippines noted its use of traditional mass media and social media in mobilizing action on nutrition-oriented food choices.

Ecuador highlighted a recently enacted law on food labeling to alert consumers on sugar, fat and salt content of foods. Latvia favored measures to restrict marketing targeted to children to discourage unhealthy food consumption.

Myanmar stressed the importance of family farming systems in addressing nutrition and food security, and noted his government’s intention to provide technological support in pre- and post-food harvesting.

Norway lamented that the value of fish in providing nutrition is not better recognized at the global level. Nicaragua noted work to strengthen the family farming economy using comprehensive small-scale rural urban production.

Mali said climate change must be considered in agricultural planning. Zambia expressed its support for a common framework for monitoring food and nutrition. Liberia urged the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to adopt ICN2’s recommendations and consider declaring 2016-2025 the Decade on Nutrition.

Australia called for a voluntary and flexible approach so that the outcomes can be used in a variety of national contexts. New Zealand said trade is a key element to achieving food security and nutrition, and should be fair. Romania cited sustainable agriculture development and agriculture policy as key in addressing nutrition.

Switzerland said the proposed SDG2 (hunger, food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture) and SDG12 (sustainable consumption and production patterns) are a “step in the right direction,” and supported adopting an approach that spans the value chain.

The UN Environment Programme supported the food systems approach and adding an action point from ICN2 on to the UNGA agenda, and announced its intent to join the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN).

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity discussed its collaboration on a number of health and nutrition initiatives, including its COP 8 Decision VIII/23 on food and nutrition, efforts to integrate biodiversity and health into national action plans, and readiness to collaborate on the ICN2 outcomes.

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification said desertification hinders food security and nutrition, and offered assistance in making food systems more resilient.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) announced it would provide a knowledge and innovative platform, Compact 2025, as an inclusive, multi-stakeholder partnership committed to ending hunger and filling knowledge gaps.

Representatives of the Civil Society Mechanism encouraged using the ICN2 outcomes for further discussions on the post-2015 development agenda and urged that civil society be included at all levels of negotiations.

Representatives of the Private Sector Steering Committee said: the market for locally grown food continues to expand; demand is growing for higher value foods; it is important to create value for actors along the food supply chain in order to make food systems more nutritious; and people, particularly children in developing countries, should eat more seafood.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies discussed use of cash and vouchers during humanitarian crises, and stressed that action, not debating definitions, policies and frameworks, makes a difference.

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation cited significant returns when investing in nutrition and the need for quality data, and called for a decade of action on data.

All statements for 20 November are available at: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/icn2/wednesday-20-november/en/.

FRIDAY, 21 NOVEMBER: The Democratic Republic of Congo called for assistance in harnessing his country’s untapped agriculture potential to help address food security, which has been challenged by conflict.

Sudan said that since the secession of South Sudan, it has strengthened its agriculture sector to compensate for lost oil revenues, and urged ending the trade block on his country, which hinders efforts to address malnutrition.

The Kyrgyz Republic expressed support for the Framework for Action’s recommendation to work with the FAO-WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission on nutrition and food safety. Chile explained that food security policy must be embedded in poverty reduction strategies. 

Tonga noted that switching from traditional foods to imported foods low in vitamins and fiber has resulted in high diabetes rates in his country. He highlighted counteracting measures, such as legislated tax increases on imported unhealthy food products.

Egypt said its recent civil riots resulted in constitutional changes to ensure citizens have the right to food and water. France said the objective of ending hunger by 2030 and the SDGs’ reference to nutrition must be integrated into the post-2015 development agenda, and must be based on a human rights approach.

South Africa said the next ICN should focus on sharing experiences that have emanated from ICN2. India announced an approach to address maternal and child malnutrition through an Integrated Child Development Scheme. Cuba said the SDGs would only be achieved if the MDGs are also achieved. 

Colombia described national measures in support of indigenous foods and shortening the intermediation chain from producers to consumers. Iceland noted the introduction of a ban on trans fatty acids in 2011 and underscored Nordic cooperation on nutrition under the Nordic Council of Ministers, which promotes both a healthy diet and physical activity.

Benin said malnutrition in his country has resulted in the loss of 11% of its gross domestic product. Uruguay explained that financing for food in public schools is provided by a specific homeowners tax.

Tunisia noted that countries allocating most of their budget to the democratization process would require additional resources from donors in order to implement the Framework of Action. 

Ethiopia emphasized community empowerment and the economic case for investing in nutrition.

All statements for 21 November are available at: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/icn2/friday-21-november/en/.

ROUNDTABLES

ROUNDTABLE 1: NUTRITION IN THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: This roundtable took place on Wednesday afternoon. Stressing the links between good nutrition and long-term economic development, Co-Chair Anne Peniston, USAID, highlighted that good nutrition is essential to all sustainable development objectives. She said that US$1 invested in nutrition has a rate of return of US$16, with gains realized across generations. She supported looking at nutrition more comprehensively.

In a video message, Kofi Annan, Kofi Annan Foundation, urged governments to: adopt policies and mobilize resources to scale-up food security; strengthen monitoring and evaluation; and cooperate across all sectors.

Irene Khan, Director-General, International Development Law Organization, moderated the session, noting current levels of malnutrition are “unacceptably” high.

Main Speaker: Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute, Columbia University, pointed out that sending a nutrition recommendation for inclusion in the UN Secretary-General’s synthesis report on the Open Working Group on SDGs proceedings would be “extremely timely.” He advised nutritionists, agronomists, the health sector and educators to work together to define guidance on and find clarity regarding the concepts of: “adequate nutrition for all,” “hunger” and “sustainable agriculture.”

Sachs recommended focusing not on the quantity of food produced but on its nutritional value. Emphasizing interlinkages among sectors, he said that the food system, which underpins nutrition, depends on ecosystems and climate, and noted that the current agriculture system is unsustainable.

Panelists: Sok Silo, Council for Agricultural and Rural Development, Cambodia, highlighted strengthening coordination, and monitoring and evaluation. He said food security affects economic growth, and that investment to improve nutrition has a high rate of return.

Eduardo Jaramillo Navarrete, Secretariat of Health, Mexico, noted a national obesity strategy and the promotion of breastfeeding for the first six months after childbirth. Additionally, he noted Mexico’s promotion of integrated health services, banning food that is harmful to health, and establishing co-responsibility between private and public institutions.

Éva Martos, Ministry for Health, Hungary, called for broader consideration of nutrition in the post-2015 development agenda, and said governments have a key role to play in establishing proper conditions for equal, accessible and affordable nutrition.

Jean-Pierre Halkin, Rural Development, Food and Nutrition Security, European Commission, emphasized that the nutrition discussion has changed from looking at the immediate consequences of nutrition to addressing long-term consequences and urged bringing this into the post-2015 debate. He said the Rome Declaration would be used to engage in the post-2015 discussions and in other areas, such as harmonizing food security and agriculture policy goals within the EU.

Sania Nishtake, Director, Heartfile, and Co-Chair, WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, saying NCDs are the leading cause of death worldwide, explained that 75% are in low- and middle-income countries, where less medical capacity exists to manage NCDs. She emphasized that: tracking NCDs is necessary for sustainable development; undernutrition is a risk factor for developing NCDs later in life; and NCD policy goes hand in hand with environmental sustainability.

Discussion:During the ensuing discussion, Norway urged retaining the proposed SDG2 on food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture, and its targets, while emphasizing the need to transparently measure nutrition. Afghanistan cautioned against establishing an unrealistic target for nutrition and urged prioritizing nutrition action based on strict criteria.

Côte d’Ivoire said nutrition must be viewed from a health, not just agricultural, perspective. Ecuador raised the issue of food sovereignty. The People’s Health Movement emphasized that the post-2015 agenda must be human rights-based in order to achieve nutrition goals. The Arab Network called for bringing nutrition not arms to Africa.

ROUNDTABLE 2: IMPROVING POLICY COHERENCE FOR NUTRITION: Panel 1: Coherence between Economic Policies and Healthy Changes in Diets: The panel convened on Thursday morning, 20 November. Session Moderator Ala Alwan, WHO, noted lack of progress since ICN1 due to inadequate coordination of public policies, and called for a multisectoral and interagency response. He said NCDs cannot be addressed until public policies become more consistent and the private sector becomes engaged.

Corinna Hawkes, World Cancer Research Fund, discussed economic reasons for making policies more coherent, and said advancing nutrition objectives also advances economic objectives. She also underscored the need to reduce demand for unhealthy foods like sugary beverages, via taxation and restricting advertising targeted at children. She said food security policies have tended to favor calories over nutrition, and proposed using supply and value chain analyses as a tool to ensure policy and economic coherence.

Arthur Chioro, Minister of Health, Brazil, spoke on ensuring food and nutrition security demands, and said the right to health should be respected. He: said that in Brazil, more diseases are chronic, rather than acute or due to deprivation; noted the significant increase in obesity rates; and cited NCDs as the main cause of death in Brazil.

Chioro said that MDG1 (eradicating extreme poverty and hunger) has been achieved, access to food is not a significant issue, hunger is an isolated problem, and significant reductions in child mortality have been achieved through its Zero Hunger Strategy. He said Brazil is focusing on national programmes and strategies to address food insecurity and undernutrition, and emphasized the strong participation of civil society organizations in this effort.

Leo Varadkar, Minister of Health, Ireland, described his country’s major nutrition initiatives, such as the Healthy Ireland Framework, which requires interagency, interdepartmental and cross-sectoral collaboration. He stressed the importance of coherence for addressing the costs associated with diabetes and obesity.

Franco Sassi, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), argued that government policies that improve nutritional quality and access to food would not hinder the pursuit of economic goals or be detrimental to development. He said productivity must take nutrition into account, and explained that new food policies aimed at changing food systems must be recognized as an integral part of structural reforms.

Kyungwon Oh, Director, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Republic of Korea, discussed her country’s efforts to decrease sodium intake and limit advertising for processed foods, particularly near schools, and difficulties faced in promoting new policies related to nutrition.

Vinita Bali, SUN, India, discussed coherence between private sector objectives and healthy diets. She emphasized: action coherence, in addition to policy coherence; political leadership in directing actions and programmes; leadership from large food companies; and a multisectoral approach.

Discussion: During a question and answer session, the People’s Health Movement said coherence should not be pursued if the “economy” being referred to entails lack of regulation, unfair trade agreements and a focus only on gross domestic product. Another participant expressed concern about governments’ “collusion with industry” in the food sector.

Panel 2: Policy Coherence for Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture: This panel took place on Thursday morning, and was moderated by Joachim Von Braun, University of Bonn.

Main Speaker: Marie Ruel, IFPRI, discussed how to make agriculture policies nutrition-sensitive, underscoring the importance of integrating gender and nutrition not only into the agriculture and health sectors, but also into other sectors, such as water and sanitation.

Panelists: Nemesia Achacollo Tola, Minister for Rural Development and Land, Bolivia, emphasized the gender-approach to family farming to reduce poverty. She emphasized initiatives on collaboration with indigenous farmers and loans for small farmers.

Akinwumi Ayo Adesina, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Nigeria, reported that 12 Africans die every minute from hunger and malnutrition. He provided examples of successful initiatives in Nigeria, including: cash transfers to increase food access; electronic coupons in e-wallets that deliver seeds; biofortification, such as pro-Vitamin A cassava varieties; micronutrient powders; and high energy food production of sorghum, maize and soybean.

Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary of State, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), described the USDA’s work on food, nutrition and agricultural policy, noting one department addresses all these issues. He said the USDA views hunger and obesity as “different sides of the same coin,” and that federal nutrition programmes aim to address both. He said 60% of the USDA’s budget goes to nutrition assistance programmes.

Jeff Waage, Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition and London International Development Centre, called for: ensuring coherence and integration across governmental sectors; and considering the full range of policies across food systems.

Discussion: In the ensuing discussion, participants highlighted: the vital role of fisheries and aquaculture in securing humanity’s food security and nutrition; using the ecosystem approach in food production; responsible investment in nutrition; and the significant role of gardening in providing diverse, balanced and healthy food in rural communities. Participants also inquired about how to mobilize the private sector and what is meant by “diversity in diet.”

In closing, von Braun expressed support for forming a new science initiative to back coherent agriculture and nutrition strategy, and interconnected value chains.

Panel 3: Nutrition in all Sectors: This panel convened on Thursday morning. Barries Margetts, University of Southampton, UK, moderated the session.

Main speaker:Pekka Puska, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland, enumerated strategies that focus on intersectoral collaboration towards better health and nutrition in all sectors, such as the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs and the WHO’s Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. He presented case studies from Finland, such as the biscuit industry’s reduction of saturated fat and the introduction of taxes on candy and soft drinks to reduce cardiovascular diseases and obesity. 

Panelists: Talalelei Tuitama, Minister of Health, Samoa, presented on nutrition in trade policy. Referencing the Apia Communiqué on Healthy Islands, NCDs and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, he said NCDs were being addressed by developing targets to reduce saturated fats, sugar and salt in food in small island development states (SIDS). Using the example of low-quality food dumping and the WTO’s prohibition of Samoa’s attempt to tax unhealthy food, he said contradictions between nutrition, health and trade must be addressed.

Lois Brown, Ministry of International Development and La Francophonie, Canada, presented on Canada-funded initiatives to increase nutrition in agriculture in developing countries. She drew attention to the recent conference “Saving Every Woman, Saving Every Child” that aimed to build political commitment to reduce hunger and improve health. She also highlighted Canada’s support to the Pan-African Bean Research Alliance to improve the resiliency and nutritional content of beans in developing countries.

María Virginia Castillo Jara, Ministry of Health, Peru, discussed nutrition in social policy, noting that mining was a major source of tax revenue in her country, which can be used to fund social programmes. She said that since 2008, Peru has been implementing a results-based budget for social programmes.

Enoch Hemans Cobbina, Ministry of Education, Ghana, discussed nutrition in education policy, emphasizing that education and nutrition are different sides of the same coin. He mentioned programmes in his country to train vendors in food hygiene and nutrition, and to ban the sale of sweets and candy that lack nutritional content.

Sarah Abdullah Alrakayan, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Embassy of Kuwait, discussed nutrition in health policy, and policies in Kuwait to fight obesity, mentioning community-based surveys on dietary intakes as an example. She said Kuwait was considering removing subsidies on sugar and infant milk formula in order to promote breastfeeding. She emphasized nutritional literacy and educating parents in particular.

Discussion: In the ensuing discussion, Chile said: certain foods, like Coke, should not be the subject of advertising and commercials; and such advertising is the “most brutal form of transmission” of disease. Paraguay suggested addressing the impacts of transgenic seeds in the post-2015 development agenda.

Costa Rica called for better information about nutrient content of foods, lamented overconsumption of supplements, and said the best way to prevent illness is through good nutrition. Sudan called for more complementarity and coordination among organizations.

ROUNDTABLE 3: GOVERNANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN NUTRITION: Panel 1: Governance in Nutrition: This panel took place on Thursday afternoon. Roundtable Co-Chair Hans Brattskar, Norway, opened the session, saying that nutritious food is a human right. Gerda Verburg, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to FAO and Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), moderated the session.

Main Speaker: Shawn Baker, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said nutrition challenges were less about science than about politics. He noted that nutrition is a “hidden problem,” since it is ubiquitous, and deficiencies are invisible and largely confined to those without a voice. He said the issue requires cross-sectoral orchestration and non-partisan support, and urged embracing nutrition at both the technical and political levels by: increasing the visibility of nutrition; and ensuring accountability of sectors and stakeholders and increased monitoring. He supported aligning with the World Health Assembly Global Targets 2025. 

Responding to a question on the potential for the formation of a UN institution on nutrition, he opined that all the forces to address governance already exist and that establishing something new would be costly and cause delays. The Arab Maghreb Union opposed establishing a new UN agency on nutrition.

Panelists: Germán Gonzalez, Secretary for Food and Nutritional Security, Guatemala, said that nutrition was more than a government responsibility, underscoring the role of civil society and the private sector. He described goals established at municipal and departmental levels with data monitored via a national information system.

Haladou Salha, AU-NEPAD Senior Technical Advisor to the Rome-based African Ambassadors, addressed the current mechanisms around nutrition governance and accountability, and said national investment programmes must articulate nutrition in a consistent fashion.

Zahra Abhollah, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Iran, described the work of the High Council of Health and Food Security in Iran, and programmes addressing, inter alia: reduced pesticides in agricultural products; NCDs and micronutrient deficiency; and education campaigns to increase nutritional awareness at the community level.

Discussion:During the ensuing discussion, participants asked about decentralization of governance, and ensuring appropriate decision making at the community level, and called for increasing the visibility of nutrition.

A representative of GOAL (Go On, Give a Lot) pointed to the international and transnational architecture that perpetuates much malnutrition, such as WTO rules and speculative behavior. She said the voices of the poor and small farmers must be heard in the decision-making process. The International Baby Food Action Network suggested keeping the policy-setting arena free from commercial influence until decisions are made, and, noting the current system is not working, hoped SUN would consider changing its working modalities. Gonzalez responded that corporations are an integral part of the decision-making process. A private sector representative said they have the tools to help solve malnutrition.

Abhollahi said “nutrition security” is still not a recognized term, and noted efforts to estimate the burden of disease to convince policymakers to take action.

Participants also commented on: changing political culture to move toward policies that protect the common good; shared governance; the importance of leadership for good governance; and how to ensure governance at the local level. One participant suggested identifying a specific percentage of government budgets that should be targeted towards nutritional goals.

Panel 2: Accountability in Nutrition: This session took place on Thursday afternoon, and was moderated by Tom Arnold, SUN Movement, Ireland.

Main Speaker: Lawrence Haddad, IFPRI, spoke on whether current accountability mechanisms work, noting challenges posed by the invisibility of malnutrition and multiple sectors and actors. He emphasized the difficulty in tracking government spending on nutrition, but stressed that it is a cornerstone of accountability. He noted lack of access to data by governments and lamented that nutrition is only mentioned once in the proposed SDGs.

Panelists: Cristina Isabel Lopes da Silva Monteiro Duarte, Minister of Finance and Planning, Cape Verde, emphasized that government needs to adopt accountability mechanisms in order to realize nutritional goals. She said using metrics on indicators, such as gender and nutrition, was vital to achieving nutrition accountability.

Mary Mubi, Former Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe to FAO, said the post-2015 development agenda provides benchmarks to guide nutritional improvements. She said the CFS platform is critical to making progress in nutritional governance at the global level. To achieve country-level accountability, she recommended sustainable and coordinated funding, and suggested using the Brazilian example, where stakeholders coordinate on sustainability to achieve nutrition targets.

Richard Greene, USAID, supported: adequately addressing nutrition in the SDGs; more detailed and institutionalized nutrition reporting; indicators to track nutrition programme effectiveness; tracking stunting and wasting; and tracking women’s involvement and empowerment in nutrition.

Marcela Libombo, Ministry of Agriculture, Mozambique, discussed: a national accountability mechanism for nutrition; the importance of communication; and mainstreaming nutrition into sectoral economic and social plans, and information systems to monitor progress and nutrition improvement. She noted increased integration of the agriculture and health sectors in her country.

Asma Lateef, Director, Bread for World Institute, noted that annual self-assessments are being undertaken by SUN countries, and called for strengthening nutrition data at all levels. She also called for transparent data on what is being spent and how, and what is being achieved, in order for civil society to hold governments accountable. Lateef noted efforts to build nutrition champions in parliaments, supported a strong stand-alone SDG that specifies ending malnutrition, stunting and wasting, and urged reflecting the multisectoral nature of nutrition across the SDGs.

PRESENTATION OF THE OUTCOMES OF THE PRE-CONFERENCE EVENTS

PARLIAMENTARIANS’ EVENT: Pier Ferdinando Casini, President of the Commission for Foreign Affairs of the Senate, Italy, and Chair of the Parliamentary Meeting, reported on the Parliamentary Event, highlighting the urgent need for parliaments to advocate for more effective responses to address malnutrition, while ensuring that public policies are safeguarded from real or perceived conflict of interests.

He also mentioned recommendations related to, inter alia: adopting national 2025 nutrition targets, as well as national indicators; increasing and prioritizing budgetary allocations for addressing malnutrition and food insecurity; empowering women and supporting them in their role as producers; and including nutrition and ICN2 follow up on the IPU Assembly’s agenda in 2015.

CIVIL SOCIETY EVENT: Three civil society spokespersons made presentations on, inter alia, the pre-conference Civil Society Event, which took place on 17-18 November. Joséphine Atangana, Regional Platform of Central African Farmers Organization, called it “unacceptable” that in a world of plenty so many are hungry. She deplored that ICN1 “sank without a trace” and hoped ICN2 would not meet the same fate. She described the debilitating impacts of agribusiness, monocultures and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), corporate land grabs, lack of investment in small-scale food production and milk substitutes for babies.

Munkhbolor Gungaa, World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous People, stressed the importance of engaging populations most affected by malnutrition. She called for: policy coherence between the CFS Strategic Framework and ICN2, noting that the CFS is the most inclusive government-led platform to address nutrition; ensuring that food and nutrition security are fully integrated into the post-2015 development agenda; a human rights-based approach to nutrition and food; and halting the marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Flavio Valente, Secretary-General, FIAN International, urged establishing multistakeholder and local food policy governance bodies. He said ICN2 follow up should address determinants of acute nutrition, and stressed that consumers have a right to be informed about the nutritional content of food and beverages, as well as of potentially harmful substances such as GMOs.

Valente said that under current trade regimes, the government policy space for promoting health and nutrition is limited, and that trade and investment agreements must comply with the right to food and nutrition. He called for a legally-binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, and declared a worldwide People’s Decade of Action on Nutrition.

PRIVATE SECTOR EVENT: David Crean, Mars Incorporated, speaking for the Private Sector Mechanism, discussed how business could collaborate as an equal partner in helping to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. He urged ICN2 to ask food businesses and other stakeholders to, among other things: increase sustainable agriculture production; and provide access to safe, nutritious, affordable and diverse diets. He focused on food safety as one of the most significant and pervasive problems in sustainable development efforts, and said food security cannot be achieved without it.

Marie Konate, Protein-Kissée-La on behalf of theSUN Business Network, said women are critical to nutrition, as well as to the private sector’s contribution to nutrition. She said her company aims to improve access by poor Ivoirian households to high-quality fortified complementary food in a way that protects breastfeeding. She said small and medium enterprises also need the support of bigger, multinational companies with technology transfer, access to data and support within their value chains.

Nico Van Belzen, International Dairy Federation, on behalf of the Livestock Sector, discussed five opportunities for public private partnerships: enabling environments, including improving information systems and providing information on nutrient content; sustainable food systems; addressing wasting, stunting and anemia in women of reproductive age; improving access to healthy diversified diets; and nutrition education.

All presentations are available at: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/icn2/friday-21-november/en/.

CHAIRS’ SUMMARIES OF THE ROUNDTABLES

ROUNDTABLE 1: NUTRITION IN THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: Roundtable 1 Co-Chair Peniston said the roundtable underscored the importance of nutrition in the SDGs and discussed practical ways for ensuring that nutrition is adequately reflected across the development agenda. She emphasized that the cost of prevention is lower than the cost to treat malnutrition and its consequences, and that investments in nutrition yield high economic returns.

Peniston reported that the roundtable, inter alia, called for UN agencies and others to revisit the proposed SDGs and indicators, consider more ambitious targets, and develop more robust systems to measure progress toward achieving nutrition goals at local, national and global levels.

ROUNDTABLE 2: IMPROVING POLICY COHERENCE FOR NUTRITION: Co-Chair Radziewicz-Winnicki reported on this roundtable, noting success stories from many countries, such as Brazil, with its Zero Hunger Initiative which lifted 36 million Brazilians out of poverty. He noted that there is no “one-fits-all” approach, and that policies must also reflect specific national circumstances and cultural environments.

Radziewicz-Winnicki said the panel recommended engaging all parties and sectors of society, including civil society and the private sector, to generate effective responses to address malnutrition in all its forms. He also stressed the importance of regulations to ensure public health is not “the hostage of economic profit,” through the possible establishment of national accountability frameworks for the private sector.

ROUNDTABLE 3: GOVERNANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR NUTRITION: Roundtable 3 Co-Chair Hans Brattskar presented conclusions from this roundtable. Regarding the nutrition for governance panel, he said nutrition has become “everyone’s business and no one’s responsibility,” noting lack of clarity regarding who is accountable for nutrition in existing governance structures. He said the establishment of a new international organization was discussed, but that many agreed that resources would be better used to support and build up existing governance mechanisms.

He highlighted recommendations, including: meeting the needs and human rights of people; taking a multi-stakeholder approach that holds sectors and stakeholders accountable to deliver on nutrition targets; recognizing that work on improving nutrition needs to be political not partisan; and anchoring nutrition targets in the SDGs.

Regarding the panel on accountability for nutrition, Brattskar said “accountability” is often difficult to define and more challenging to measure. He said the panel’s conclusions note, inter alia: progress in nutrition depends on accountability; existing accountability mechanisms need to be strengthened; global agreements provide a useful benchmark for national-level nutrition outcomes; the need to reach agreement on indicators and data gathering, and strengthen information systems; and efforts are required to embed nutrition more broadly into the SDGs.

All summaries are available at: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/icn2/friday-21-november/en/.

CLOSURE OF THE CONFERENCE

Oleg Chestnov, Assistant Director-General, NCDs and Mental Health, WHO, highlighted the “colossal contribution” FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva has made to the conference. He noted the attendance of almost 100 ministers at the conference.

In closing, Graziano da Silva noted the attendance of approximately 2200 participants from170 countries, including 85 ministers, 23 vice-ministers, 100 parliamentarians, 150 civil society representatives, 100 private sector representatives, 30 organizations from the UN systems and 500 journalists. He emphasized the need for adequate financing to put the Framework for Action into practice. He discussed next steps, including a Decade of Action on Nutrition and the Expo Milano 2015, which is being organized with support from the UN system. He said the “time is now for bold action to shoulder the challenge of Zero Hunger and ensure adequate nutrition for all.”

ICN2 Vice-Chair Ahmed Al-Bakri thanked donors who had contributed to the conference, including the EU, Spain, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Russian Federation and Switzerland. He said participants were leaving the conference with a commitment and pledge to future generations. He gaveled ICN2 to a close at approximately 2:15pm.

CONFERENCE OUTCOME DOCUMENTS

ROME DECLARATION ON NUTRITION: The Declaration reaffirms commitments made at, inter alia, ICN1 in 1992, the World Food Summits in 1996 and 2002, and the World Summit on Food Security in 2009. It further reaffirms that everyone has the right to access safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger. On multiple challenges of malnutrition to inclusive and sustainable development and to health, the document notes, inter alia, that malnutrition not only affects people’s health and well-being but also poses a high burden in the form of socioeconomic consequences to States, and that its root causes are multidimensional.

On a common vision for global action to end all forms of malnutrition, the document reaffirms, inter alia, that the elimination of malnutrition is imperative for health, ethical, political, social and economic reasons.

The Declaration recognizes, inter alia, that official development assistance for nutrition should complement national nutrition strategies, policies and programmes, and that the right to food is fostered through sustainable, equitable, accessible resilience and diverse food systems. Moreover, it recognizes that governments should protect consumers, especially children, from inappropriate marketing and publicity of food.

The Declaration includes 10 commitments on, among other things: eradicating hunger and preventing all forms of malnutrition; reversing the rising trends in overweight, obesity and diet-related NCDs; enhancing sustainable food systems by developing coherent public policies from production to consumption; empowering people to make informed food choices; and raising the profile of nutrition.

It calls on FAO and WHO to support national governments in developing and implementing policy to address malnutrition; and recommends that the UNGA endorse the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the accompanying Framework for Action, and consider declaring a Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025.

FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION: The Framework for Action is voluntary and provides a list of 60 policy and strategy recommendations for governments to use in their efforts to improve nutrition.

The Framework for Action also includes recommendations on:

  • enabling environments for effective action;
  • sustainable food systems to promote healthy diets;
  • international trade and investment, including improving the availability and access of food supply through appropriate trade agreements and policies, and ensuring that such agreements and policies do not negatively impact on the right to adequate food;
  • nutrition education and information, including improving school curricula and labeling;
  • social protection, including using cash and food transfers and school meal programmes;
  • strong and resilient health systems, including promoting universal health coverage;
  • promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding;
  • addressing food waste;
  • childhood stunting, overweight and obesity, including regulating the marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages to children;
  • anemia in women of reproductive age;
  • health services to improve nutrition;
  • water sanitation and hygiene, including committing to achieve universal access to safe drinking water; and
  • food safety and antimicrobial resistance.

Lastly, the Framework includes recommendations that address accountability of national governments by encouraging them to establish nutrition targets, consistent with the timeframe for implementation (2016-2025), as well as global nutrition and NCD targets established by the World Health Assembly. It further recommends monitoring through existing mechanisms, and reporting on implementation of commitments in the Rome Declaration, to be compiled jointly by FAO and WHO, in collaboration with other relevant organizations.

A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF ICN2

The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) marked the first time in the 21st century that the global community convened in an intergovernmental process to discuss nutrition. The conference was notable because it recognized that improving nutrition goes beyond reducing poverty and hunger. Its outcomes, the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and its Framework for Action, provide a unified message from the food and nutrition community. They also ushered in what many hope will lead to a global Decade of Action on Nutrition, 2016-2025, and a renewed determination by the international community to eradicate malnutrition globally.

As a platform for delivering policy recommendations based on the shared visions of major food, health and agricultural organizations, ICN2 has a unique opportunity and is well timed to influence a number of political fora, including the post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals (SDGs) that are to be adopted towards the end of 2015.

This analysis briefly discusses ICN2 and how it can contribute to the changing global nutrition conversation, including how its outcomes might contribute to the post-2015 development agenda process.

THE EVOLVING NUTRITION AGENDA

Twenty years ago, food policy focused on a narrow, straightforward agenda of improving the quantity, rather than quality, of food. Discussions at ICN1 in 1992, for instance, focused on adequately addressing hunger and scaling up measures at the country and global levels to combat it. Generally, nutrition goals were mostly specified for certain populations, such as those in extreme poverty, pregnant women and new mothers.

In addition, historically, discussions on food security and sustainable agriculture were dealt with separately. This silo approach presented significant challenges to addressing nutrition. By the time Rio+20 convened in 2012 to assess progress on these and other objectives, it was acknowledged that food policy efforts lacked cohesiveness. In their own assessment, FAO and WHO called progress on hunger and undernutrition since ICN1 “uneven and unacceptably slow,” due in part to the lack of coordinated policies.

In response to these challenges, policies related to nutrition have broadened in scope, become more nuanced and address new nutrition challenges. Malnutrition is now defined to include: undernourishment (not enough calories), undernutrition (micronutrient deficiencies) and overnutrition (excessive calories). Overcoming malnutrition is no longer simply about producing more food but also about producing healthier food with a higher and appropriate nutritional value. As a result, a common call at ICN2 was to make the entire food value chain more “nutrition sensitive,” from production, to marketing, to distribution, to consumer education, with an emphasis on the nutritional content of food.

Discussions at the meeting also stressed the interlinkages between nutrition, food security and sustainable agriculture, with many calling for a food systems approach to addressing nutrition. Moving forward to reduce malnutrition will require bridging multiple sectors. Though there is clearly momentum to do this, some obvious tensions and differing interests and priorities have emerged. For example, those focused on producing as much food as possible do not view such issues as obesity, other nutrition-related issues, and food waste and loss as priorities. Some have also highlighted the importance of addressing environmental concerns within this approach. Ultimately, sustainable development cannot be achieved without addressing food policy and the inputs to and nutritional outcomes of food production.

In addition, the conference underscored the urgency of addressing the pervasive and “unacceptable” degree of hunger that still exists throughout the world. But as was pointed out, food security and nutrition can be addressed together. The achievement of one does not need to come at the expense of the other.

This changing discourse on food policy requires a paradigm shift to one that prioritizes nutrition, along with food security and sustainable agriculture. As echoed during the conference, this new approach must also acknowledge the costs associated with chronic malnutrition, including medically and via the lost productivity of an unhealthy population.

A CHANGING POLICY LANDSCAPE

To the relief of many, the outcome documents were negotiated and consensus was reached on them ahead of the conference, meaning that delegates were able to focus on actions being taken at the national level and implementation, rather than on negotiations. The Declaration and its Framework for Action contain 10 commitments and 60 recommendations, and are considered by many to provide a suitably flexible approach to eradicating malnutrition. Although they fall short of setting specific targets, some noted this would not impede progress because, as one participant put it, “targets tend to be unrealistic and not easily achievable.” Thus, countries can implement the outcomes in a manner that is appropriate for their national contexts. On the whole, ICN2 was considered noteworthy and a step forward towards raising the visibility of nutrition within the international community, as well as providing the opportunity to impact on and influence other fora.

In the next year, policymakers will be taking the final steps towards concluding work on the post-2015 development agenda, including a set of SDGs, an area where stakeholders are keen for the ICN outcomes to make a significant impact. The proposed SDGs specify 17 SDGs and 169 targets. However, only proposed SDG2 (end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture) specifically mentions nutrition, though other proposed SDG targets refer to mortality from NCDs, and food waste and loss. Some believe nutrition should be included as a stand-alone goal and be further mainstreamed across the SDG targets.

Participants repeatedly highlighted the possibility of influencing the post-2015 development agenda negotiations and ensuring that nutrition features prominently on the agenda. However, there is no clear statement or roadmap regarding how this might happen. The Declaration simply recommends that the UN General Assembly endorse the ICN outcome. 

Another issue that garnered much attention at ICN2 was that of nutrition governance. As noted by one participant, nutrition “has no home” within the international community, a recurring theme at the meeting. Next steps will rely on harnessing and merging the interlinking, interagency work on nutrition, food security and sustainable agriculture, which will require a great deal of political coordination. Many reiterated that what needs to be done is clear, but that what is required to make it happen is political leadership. It appears that no existing player in the food policy community wants to take responsibility for the mammoth effort required to govern nutrition in the 21st century, although the FAO, WFP, WHO, CFS and UNSCN seem apt contenders. The conference was significant in that it revealed the need for governance on nutrition, and highlighted the various agencies where work on nutrition is being carried out.

A number of participants recognized the longstanding role of the CFS as an inclusive, government-led platform and a logical choice for taking the lead on nutrition. In terms of experience, the FAO and WFP led the thematic consultations on hunger, food security and sustainable agriculture in the post-2015 process. On its own, the WHO uniquely contributes to managing the “double burden” of malnutrition. Behind the scenes, however, a few participants revealed that among the different agencies currently addressing nutrition an atmosphere of competition has contributed to existing barriers to governance, as well as to cohesiveness and ultimately the ability to make better progress.

Another potential governance option, the establishment of a new UN legal framework on nutrition, was also mentioned. However, this option was opposed by many who contended that resources should be channeled towards strengthening and building up existing organizations instead of establishing new ones. This option also raised concerns for some civil society representatives, who flagged the private sector’s presence and influence on the UNSCN, which some in civil society believed might play a prominent role in such a framework.

During the meeting, presenters also highlighted problems with accountability, in part due to insufficient data acquisition and availability, which significantly hinder the ability to measure and track nutrition targets. Specifically, the difficulty with nutrition definitions that have broad interpretations, tracking government spending on nutrition, and tracking targets at the country level are areas that must be addressed. While governments are being encouraged to take leadership on nutrition, “without measuring we are guessing,” as one participant put it, underscoring the need for data even more. Addressing these and other underlying gaps is necessary in order for wide-scale improvements to take place. These calls where reinforced by the first Global Nutrition Report which was released during ICN2, and which identified accountability as a key priority to reducing malnutrition globally.

THE WAY FORWARD

Nutrition in the 21st century is now recognized as both an input to, and an outcome of, development. The purpose of ICN2 was to, among other things, foster a renewed focus on nutrition. The mere fact that the conference took place was an important step, as one participant explained. It convened a broad range of actors, exposed nutrition policy’s paradoxical challenges of the double burden of malnutrition, and paved the way for nutrition to continue to be addressed as an interagency concern. Many participants expressed hope and optimism regarding improved nutrition governance and in the continuing and enhanced joint collaboration of international agencies, including the FAO and WHO.

Addressing hunger, micronutrient deficiencies and overnutrition will require sophisticated, integrated mechanisms of analysis, accountability and governance across sectors. Many anticipate that this difficult process will benefit from a robust integration and mainstreaming of nutrition into the post-2015 development agenda. But finding a “home” for nutrition in a governance structure is essential, and ICN2 has emphasized this need even more.

ICN has already bore fruit, indicated by the collaborative effort it took to convene ICN2. Hopefully, the momentum created by the conference will continue with a new injection of energy to take forward the important work of improving nutrition. Perhaps, as Pope Francis told ICN2 participants, “the spirit of brotherhood can be decisive in finding appropriate solutions.”

UPCOMING MEETINGS

OECD Global Forum on Environment: New Perspectives on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus: This Forum will provide a platform for senior policy experts, private sector leaders and government officials from OECD and partner countries to explore how countries can align policy goals to address water, energy and food reforms in a coherent way. The Forum will open with a high-level meeting of the Global Dialogue on Water Security and Sustainable Growth.  dates: 27-28 November 2014  venue: OECD Headquarters  location: Paris, France  contact: Kate Eklin   phone: +33 1 45 24 98 62  e-mail: [email protected]   www: http://www.oecd.org/env/resources/nexus.htm  

Food Security 2014: Senior policymakers and business leaders will map the risks facing the global food system, analyze the potential impact and identify priorities for action. Discussion will consider what is required in terms of national policy, international cooperation and new business practice to mitigate these risks and find cost-effective ways to ensure a more resilient food system.  date: 1-2 December 2014  venue: Chatham House  location: London, UK  contact: Press Office of Chatham House  phone: +44 20 7957 5739  email: [email protected]  www: http://www.chathamhouse.org/conferences/foodsecurity2014

2014 Climate and Health Summit: Organized in parallel with the 20th session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 20), the third annual Climate and Health Summit will raise awareness about climate change’s negative effects on health and mitigation’s potential to create a “cleaner, healthier and more equitable world.” The Global Climate and Health Alliance, organizer of the Summit, hopes to galvanize the international health community in advance of the UNGA and COP 21 in 2015. date: 6 December 2014  venue: Swissotel, Miraflores, Av. Santo Toribio 173-Via Central, Centro Embresarial Real Via Principal 150, Lima 27  location: Lima, Peru  contact: Global Climate and Health Alliance Secretariat  e-mail: [email protected]  www: http://www.climateandhealthalliance.org/summit-cop20/climate-and-health-summit

Second Meeting of the ITPGR Working Group to Enhance the Functioning of the MLS: Organized by the Secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR), the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group to Enhance the Functioning of the Multilateral System (MLS) of Access and Benefit-sharing will continue considering measures to increase user-based payments and contributions to the Benefit-sharing Fund. The meeting will be preceded by regional and inter-regional consultations, to be held on 8 December 2014.  dates: 9-11 December 2014  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: ITPGR Secretariat  phone: +39 06 570 53441  fax: +39 06 570 56347  e-mail: [email protected]  www: http://www.planttreaty.org/content/second-meeting-ad-hoc-ope...  

CGRFA 15 Seminar “Towards The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture”: Immediately preceding the 15th regular session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA), this seminar will focus on biodiversity and food security.  date: 17 January 2015   location: Rome, Italy   contact: FAO Secretariat   phone: +39 06 5705 49811   fax: +39 06 5705 5246   e-mail: [email protected]   www: http://www.fao.org/nr/cgrfa/cgrfa-meetings/en/  

CGRFA 15: The 15th Regular Session of the CGRFA (CGRFA 15) is expected to convene to continue its discussions on: cross-sectoral matters; animal, forest and plant genetic resources; and cooperation with other international organizations.   dates: 19-23 January 2015  location: Rome, Lazio, Italy  contact: FAO Secretariat  phone: +39 06 5705 4981  fax: +39 06 5705 5246  e-mail: [email protected]   www: http://www.fao.org/nr/cgrfa/cgrfa-meetings/en/  

High-Level Thematic Debate on Means of Implementation for the Post-2015 Development Agenda: The President of the 69th UNGA will convene this thematic debate, which will focus on how to mobilize resources to turn aspirations for the post-2015 development agenda into realities. It is expected to discuss financing, technology development and transfer, and capacity building. The debate will also consider investments in climate financing, rural development, infrastructure, protection of the global commons and social sectors. date: 2 February 2015 [tentative]  venue: UN Headquarters  location: New York City, US  contact: Office of the President of the UNGA   www: http://www.un.org/pga/statements/opening-69th-session/  

World Health Day 2015: World Health Day 2015 will focus on food safety.  date: 7 April 2015  www: http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2015/event/en/

68th World Health Assembly (WHA): The WHA, the supreme decision-making body of WHO, convenes annually in Geneva. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. date: May 2015 (tbcvenue: WHO location: Geneva, Switzerland phone: +41 22 791 2222  contact: [email protected] www: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/2014/wha67/how_wha_works/en/

Expo 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life: Expo 2015 will be held on the theme, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” Recognizing the role of food and nutrition in achieving sustainable development, the event will focus on related themes, including improving food quality and security, ensuring healthy and high-quality nutrition, and promoting innovation in research, technology and business practices.  dates: 1 May to 31 October 2015  venue: Expo - Milano 2015  location: Milan, Italy  contact: Expo 2015 Planning Office  phone: +39 02 89459400/499  www: http://www.expo2015.org/en/index.html?packedargs=op=changeLang  

39th Session of the FAO Conference: At the 39th session of the Conference of the FAO, participants will determine the policy and approve the budget of the Organization and make recommendations concerning questions relating to food and agriculture.  dates: 6-13 June 2015  venue: FAO  location: Rome, Italy  e-mail: [email protected]  phone: +39 06 57051  fax: +39 06 570 53152  www: http://www.fao.org/unfao/govbodies/gsbhome/conference/en/

GLOSSARY

CFS
FAO
ICN
IFPRI
MDGs
NCDs
SDGs
SUN
UNGA
UNSCN
WHO
Committee on World Food Security
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Conference on Nutrition
International Food Policy Research Institute
Millennium Development Goals
non-communicable diseases
Sustainable Development Goals
Scaling Up Nutrition
United Nations General Assembly
United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition
World Health Organization
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