079 Bringing policies to life

Translating global nutrition policy into country practice


  • UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN)
  • UN Network
  • Egypt
  • Mali
  • Pakistan (TBC)


Once a nutrition policy is created, there are numerous factors that shape and determine how that policy is operationalized and ultimately, the impact it will have. Some of these factors include the will of governments, rulemaking, funding, and the capacity to implement and coordinate nutrition actions across institutions and sectors. In light of the mounting momentum for nutrition as reflected by the creation of the SUN Movement, the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and its follow up and finally, the proclamation of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016 -2025), countries will be better equipped to tackle malnutrition when context–adapted nutrition policies are implemented. While examples of how policies have translated into enhanced action for impact are available, greater efforts are needed to synthesize, analyse and share them. This event will showcase the strategies utilised by decision-makers and the change agents they draw upon to ensure long-standing nutrition results. Experiences from Egypt, Mali and Pakistan will profile context specific examples, which will be supplemented with global trends as highlighted by practitioners, researchers and academia. The event will also allow for reflections on the OEWG on Nutrition with the aim of providing some insight into how policies translate into action on the ground, thereby underscoring pivotal issues that should be taken into consideration when nutrition policies are being developed.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Ms. Cornelia Richter, Vice President of IFAD and UNSCN Chair
  • Mr. Francesco Branca, Director, Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, WHO
  • H.E Hisham Badr, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Egypt to the Rome Based Agencies; Chairperson of the Group of 77 and China, Rome Chapter for 2018
  • Dr. Djibril Bagayoko, Head of Nutrition Coordination Cell and SUN Focal Point, Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene, Mali
  • Video from the Republic of Pakistan
  • Dr. Stuart Gillespie, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI
  • Dr. Juan Carlos Morales González, Executive Director, FIAN Colombia

Main themes/issues discussed

821 million people are currently undernourished. Nearly 151 million children under five years old are stunted and 50 million are wasted, yet adult obesity levels are rising. In such a time of critical need, ensuring the effective operationalization of nutrition policy is more important than ever.

Developing multi-sectoral nutrition policies is a first step to action, but how exactly does one transform commitments into results? What are the processes that must be leveraged to ensure that nutrition is mainstreamed into sectoral polices and that results are sustained? Through this event, the UNN and UNSCN Secretariats facilitated a discussion with stakeholders from different regions of the world to highlight country experiences alongside research findings to support learning about how to operationalize nutrition policy. 

Summary of key points

  • Embedding nutrition into national policy frameworks is a key aspect of nutrition governance. Other crucial factors include: (1) leadership and commitment; (2) advocacy; (3) coordination of multi-sectoral nutrition actions at national and sub-national levels; (4) data to support evidence-based decision making; and (5) accountability mechanisms, including to local communities.
  • Addressing malnutrition necessitates multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral collaboration with solutions generated from both bottom-up and top-down knowledge and experience exchange, placing people at the centre.
  • Capacity, financing and stability are also instrumental for operationalizing nutrition policies and can greatly influence intervention coverage.
  • Stories of Change in Nutrition (an initiative by Transform Nutrition - IFPRI) have proven to be effective in generating knowledge and evidence about the ‘how’ as well as in inspiring action and converting it into impact.

Key take away messages

  • Public policies must understand human rights, including the Right to Food, and be context-specific and people centric. Policy coherence is required at national and local levels.
  • Effective translation of policies into action depends on several interlinked processes: the framing of knowledge and building momentum for an issue, the attitude and will of politics and governments, and the capacity to implement the policies.
  • The enabling environment is one of the most important factors in implementation, and includes the stability of a country, institutional capacity, political will, momentum of change in the population itself, and sufficient financing.
  • The food system must be considered through a multi-sectoral and holistic lens. Synergies across different sectors such as trade, education, health, etc., must be explored for nutrition thereby reducing the tendency to work in silos when developing solutions to tackle malnutrition.
  • Both successes and failures should be considered to foster continued learning for positive nutrition outcomes. It is important to build and maintain a library of experiences to draw upon in guiding future efforts.
  • Accountability, monitoring, and evaluation mechanisms are all required for effective long- term change.




CFS - Side Event - 079 : Bringing policies to life