06 The UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016 – 2025 - CFS expectations and opportunities for engagement

Towards achieving the Outcomes of the Second International Conference on Nutrition and the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals

Organizers: WHO; FAO; Brazil; Russia (tbc); South Africa(tbc); CSM; HLPE Expert Group; Johns Hopkings University


The UN General Assembly proclaimed 2016–2025 the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, a Member State-driven and FAO/WHO-convened global effort to set, track and achieve policy commitments to end all forms of malnutrition. The Decade offers an umbrella for Governments and other relevant stakeholders to unite around a common programme of work and increase visibility, coordination, efficiency and effectiveness of nutrition action at all levels worldwide with the aim to achieve the existing global nutrition targets by 2025 and the nutrition-related targets in the Agenda for Sustainable Development by 2030. CFS is specifically mentioned in the UNGA resolution as multi-stakeholder platform to support the implementation of the Decade in line with its mandate. The goal of the Decade is to increase activities across sectors at national, regional and global levels to implement the ICN2 Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the related Framework for Action. FAO/WHO are establishing an inclusive process for their Members, UN, other international organizations and relevant stakeholders to contribute to achieving the goal of the Decade with concrete commitments for action. The event will foster better understanding of the Decade by providing CFS members with the latest information and offering an interactive platform for discussion on expectations and potential ways for engagement.

Key speakers

CFS Chair H.E. Amira Gornass, Chair CFS and Ambassador of the republic of the Sudan (opening remarks)

Moderated by Kostas Stamoulis, Assistant Director-General a.i., Economic and Social Development Department, FAO

Francesco Branca, Director, Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, WHO

Michele Lessa de Oliveira, General Coordinator for Food and Nutrition of the Ministry of Health, Brazil

Giuseppe Ruocco, Director General for Nutrition, Food Hygiene and Safety, Ministry of Health, Italy

Ivan Konstantinopolskiy, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to FAO and other UN agencies

Joyene Sirene Isaacs, Head of Department of Agriculture, Western Cape Government, South Africa

Biraj Patnaik, Right to Food Campaign, India

Jessica Fanzo, Professor at Johns Hopkins University - HLPE team leader on food system and nutrition

Main themes/issues discussed:

The UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-2025 is an unprecedented opportunity for all stakeholders to join efforts to act at scale and globally coordinated to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in all its forms. The Resolution of the General Assembly on the Decade asks to develop a work programme based on the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) Rome Declaration on Nutrition and its Framework for Action using coordination mechanisms like the UNSCN and the CFS, in line with its mandate. The 69th World Health Assembly 2016 resolution mandated the WHO Secretariat to work with FAO to maintain an open access database of commitments for public accountability.
Main issues discussed included the development of the Decade’s work programme and of country-specific commitments for action on nutrition using e.g. a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) approach, as well as the importance of defining priority actions for improved nutrition in an inclusive and sustainable manner in country specific contexts.

Countries demonstrated their priority actions addressing the multiple burden of malnutrition:

  • Brazil successfully achieved food security but is facing challenges in addressing diet based health disorders such as obesity, and coronary disease. To address these challenges it has put in place policy interventions to foster production and access to healthy diets, including food labeling, regulatory frameworks and cross-sectoral institutional arrangements.
  • Italy puts emphasis on reviewing the composition of processed foods regarding their salt, refined sugar, saturated fats and trans-fats content. The government is also committed to make available their expertise and best practices in its development cooperation.
  • The Russian Federation’s main nutrition challenges are related to micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity that affect almost half of its population. The government is implementing interventions to reduce salt and refined sugar intake. The government implements food fortification and where needed micronutrient supplementation programmes, and hot meals distribution in school. Through its international cooperation, the government supports nutrition programmes implemented by WFP and FAO.
  • South Africa’s constitution includes food security and nutrition among the fundamental rights. The government’s efforts are directed towards tackling the double burden of malnutrition: undernutrition and obesity that affect a high number of its population. Actions are focused on the support to sustainable agriculture production, addressing management of water resources, and economic and social exclusion issues in the country. These efforts aim to achieve four SDGs (1, 2, 10, 12) through a multi sectoral approaches.


Key outcomes/take away messages from the discussion are:

  • The CFS as multi stakeholder platform is called upon to support the development of the Decade’s work programme and coordinate the efforts of the different stakeholders and facilitate the policy discussions in line with its mandate.
  • The UN Decade of Action on Nutrition focuses on six thematic pillars based on the ICN2 Framework for Action, and sustainable food systems for healthy diets is the first of them.
  • Member States will be asked to publicly make their (SMART) commitments and submit them to the joint FAO/WHO Secretariat of the Decade. For public accountability the commitments submitted will be tracked on a regular basis by country self-assessments through an open access database co-facilitated by the joint FAO/WHO Secretariat of the Decade.
  • Priority actions should be designed people-centered through participatory approaches taking into account social values, human dignity, sovereignty of food systems and local biodiversity. Participation of vulnerable groups should be ensured in policy formulation and implementation processes. Emergency situations need to be included and addressed efficiently.
  • Effective implementation mechanisms should be based on coherence and intersectorality of policies and actions (including across health, agriculture, education, social protection), capacity building of policy makers and implementing agents at all levels.

FAO and WHO will facilitate the process in partnership with other UN sister agencies, development partners and national governments.