58 Linking agriculture and health to shape food environments for healthy diets

The Nutrition Decade brings Geneva to Rome: front of package labelling to improve nutrition, the Ecuador experience.

Organizers

  • Republic of Ecuador
  • United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN)

Abstract

The world needs to step up its efforts to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms. More sectors, more actors and more countries need to be involved. The 2030 Agenda calls for transformational change, which can only be achieved by comprehensive and coherent shifts in actions, programmes and policies addressing both underlying and immediate causes of malnutrition. By bringing Geneva to Rome, within the framework of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, the event aims at linking and aligning agriculture and health actions to better shape the food environment to support and develop sustainable food systems for healthy diets.

During the event, the vice minister of Health – a novelty in the CFS - of Ecuador will present experiences with the implementation of front of package food labelling and other strategies to promote healthy diets and nutrition using an integral and multisector approach. Ecuador is among the first countries that committed to the Nutrition Decade. The United Kingdom will present their efforts at various levels to eliminate all forms of malnutrition. Other panellists will contribute to the global jigsaw with their context specific cases that link various sectors. UNSCN will briefly sketch the global context and frame the several initiatives and policies for better nutrition.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Michel Mordasini, UNSCN Chair, Vice President of IFAD
  • Stineke Oenema, UNSCN Coordinator
  • Juan Holguin Flores, Ecuador Ambassador to Italy
  • Terri Sarch, UK Ambassador to the UN Agencies in Rome
  • Senador Girardi, Vice president of the Senate of Chile
  • Isabel Alvarezy, Urgenci
  • Greg Miller, Global Dairy Platform, Team member of the HLPE Report on Nutrition and Food Systems

Summary

The world needs to step up its efforts to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms. More sectors, more actors and more countries need to be involved. The 2030 Agenda calls for transformational change, which can only be achieved by comprehensive and coherent shifts in actions, programmes and policies addressing both underlying and immediate causes of malnutrition.

By bringing Geneva to Rome, “Linking agriculture and health to shape food environments for healthy diets” aimed at aligning agriculture and health actions to better shape the food environment to support sustainable food systems for healthy diets. Through this event, UNSCN provided a space for a range of  CFS stakeholders to present their different views and share experiences, opportunities and challenges in linking health and agriculture within their own sector.

  • A multi-sectoral approach is required to achieve the global goals defined in 2030 Agenda.
  • The Nutrition Decade (2016-2025) foresees a scaling up of policies and actions for nutrition, as well as serving as an umbrella for all actors to work together to eradicate hunger and all forms of malnutrition worldwide. Ecuador, with its front of package food labelling strategy, is the second country to submit a concrete commitment.
  • In 2012, the Ministry of Public Health of Ecuador started the process of developing a visible labelling system, which was approved one year later. In 2014 the substitute regulations on processed foods for human consumption introduced the compulsory need for labelling on the front of packaging.
  • Creating a secure food environment requires taking a holistic approach to sustainable food production that considers issues such as quality and quantity of diets, food preference and food access. Improving diets and addressing malnutrition remains a priority for UK DFID – including through its work on agriculture and food systems.
  • Misleading advertising is considered the most important factor that influences people’s eating habits in Chile. To tackle child obesity in Chile, the government passed a new law imposing black seals on junk food.
  • CSM involves 11 sectors working together towards the same goal. The discourse should evolve beyond components, nutrients and food safety to healthy diets and include  inequalities: if inequalities in households are not considered then nutrition outcomes will not be equal for women and men.
  • The dairy sector in the US is trying to reduce the amount of sugar that goes into dairy products for schools

Key outcomes/take away messages

  • It is fundamental to consolidate cooperation between health and agriculture sectors and connect the policy making forums of Geneva with Rome. In doing so, policy coherence across the CFS in Rome, the WHA in Geneva and the SDGs in New York is strengthened.
  • Nutrition is an input and an output of how to achieve the SDGs.
  • All regulatory measures will face tough criticism. There needs to be a crosscutting approach involving all the sectors. Any regulatory policy needs to go hand in hand with a monitoring and evaluation mechanism.
  • Industry is responsible to guarantee healthy foods by providing clear nutritional information on the products. Both the Chilean and Ecuadorean examples show that clear regulations also benefit industries.
  • Civil society and private sector can contribute to deliver healthy and nutritious diets. Sustainable food production should be central to development discussions.
  • Greater investments is needed in research to provide evidence-based basis for decision making, to track progress and spread the knowledge of what works.
  • It is important to distinguish between right holders and interested parties (stakeholders).
Side Event - 58 - Linking agriculture and health to shape food environments for healthy diets