Today’s special on the CFS menu: Nutrition

Egypt takes the lead in advancing the nutrition portfolio

On Wednesday 19th of October, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) was to make some key decisions on advancing nutrition. Egypt has played a leading role in the CFS’s engagement in this area. As an Egyptian, I was particularly interested in knowing more about the process so far. I spoke with Mr. Khaled El Taweel, Egypt’s Representative ahead of the Wednesday session.  

The renewed focus on nutrition began last year when members at the 42nd CFS plenary agreed to identify opportunities arising from the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action adopted at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2).

Mr. Khaled El Taweel chaired the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Nutrition. The Working Group was responsible for developing the proposal for CFS engagement to be submitted this week. The Group also defined the scope for a High Level Report on “Nutrition and Food Systems” to be launched at CFS 44 in 2017.

Malnutrition is a particular problem in Egypt where stunting affects around 20% of children under five and as many as 28% of children born in Upper Egypt where poverty prevails. Obesity is another issue that is common in poor urban areas.  A recent study conducted on Egyptian mothers, has established a link between mothers’ obesity with children’s stunting. The problem of malnutrition in Egypt is the result of so many other intertwined issues:  poverty, an absence of nutrition awareness, degradation of agricultural land, and the high dependency on imported commodities. More recently soaring food prices have added to the mix.

Malnutrition is of course an alarming reality in much of the world.  As Mr.  El Taweel pointed out, the UN system needs to determine which course of action to take. Serious efforts are under way in this area, including the Decade of Action on Nutrition, which is led by both the FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO).

So what is the way forward?

The engagement session at the CFS on October 19th marks the first step.  The unique multi-stakeholder structure of the CFS provides an opportunity for policy convergence in terms of bringing together the recommendations on nutrition and food systems, and will be the beginning of a concrete contribution to the Decade of Action.  The negotiations among member states, as well as different stakeholders, will also feed into the report by the High Level Panel of Experts report due in 2017.

Next, the OEWG will work on the zero draft of the HLPE report on nutrition and food systems in November, According to Mr. El Taweel it will be an important opportunity for discussion and input. This step entails tracking the progress of the negotiations on nutrition.

The third step, concerns the work of the United Nations’ Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN) which will identify knowledge gaps regarding the situation of nutrition in the world, and the influence of global trade and investments on nutrition. The Committee will also look at how to conduct impact assessment of nutrition policies.  Intercessional events will be organized to prepare for the negotiations. An important part of this process will be knowledge-sharing through the lessons learned.

Member states and other stakeholders may hold different positions on nutrition, but they are all interested in the role that CFS can potentially play in the Decade for Action on nutrition.

Advancing nutrition at the CFS is an important milestone in the food security discourse, where the quality matters as much, or even more as the quantity.  The causes and the roles that different stakeholders across different sectors and governance levels can play need to be clear so we can move forward on this issue.

Malnutrition is the product of so many problems that current policies failed to address. Now is the time for Egypt and the rest of the world to face the inconvenient facts about malnutrition, and work to devise strategies that ensure the delivery of the right to adequate nutrition, without leaving anyone behind.

Blogpost by Tarek Soliman #CFS43 Social Reporter – tareksoliman143(at)

Photo courtesy the National Cancer Institute

This post is part of the live coverage during the 43rd Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.

19/10/2016 12:15


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