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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Maximizing the Impact of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition

Simone Welte
Simone WelteWelthungerhilfeGermany

Welthungerhilfe welcomes this online consultation and appreciates this possibility to comment and to contribute to a successful Decade of Action on Nutrition in the follow up of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2).

Achieving Zero Hunger and tackling all forms of malnutrition need a strong political will and must be on top of the political agenda. Coherent action in the context of the Decade, from all actors, such as UN agencies, governments, civil society, academia and private sector is key. We recognize the UN Decade as a unique opportunity to jointly contribute to sustainable and healthy diets and lifestyles.

All action under the Decade must be based on human rights and existing human rights obligations and commitments, particularly the right to adequate food, and recognizing human rights principles such as non-discrimination, participation, transparency and accountability.

To allow the Decade to have a real impact on the lives of the people who are most affected by malnutrition, it needs to be a people´s decade. Governments need to set up and support processes at country level that enable the most affected groups to participate in the design, implementation and monitoring of policies and programs in the context of the Decade. These processes should be coordinated with those put in place in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS), based on its mandate, has an important role to play in the coordination and orientation of action between a range of actors, improving policy coherence and monitoring progress on the Implementation of the Decade in line with the Right to adequate food. The report of the CFS´s High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on “Food systems and nutrition” to be endorsed by the CFS 44 can provide guidance on national and international policies on nutrition.

The monitoring of the implementation of CFS decisions and policies at country level will be a critical activity to be implemented in the work program for the implementation of the Decade as a contribution of the CFS to verify progress, identify successful policies, failures and challenges and hold governments to account on their commitments and human rights obligations with regard to nutrition. As drivers of the Decade, member states should convene and support inclusive national monitoring events. 

Germany has endorsed the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition and is a signatory and supporter of the outcome documents of ICN2, the WHA nutrition targets, and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to adequate Food. With the endorsement of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, Germany has recognized its domestic relevance as well as its responsibilities at international level with regard to nutrition.

The recently revised National Sustainability Strategy (NSS) aims to illustrate Germany´s contribution to the achievement of the SDGs, however, it still lacks relevant indicators which would be important, particularly to monitor the impacts of Germany´s policies on food and nutrition security and the right to adequate food on those most affected by malnutrition.

On a national level, Germany faces the growing problem of overweight and obesity. Germany is active in promoting healthy and sustainable diets and lifestyles, but mainly focuses on consumer education for behavior change which do not seem to have a significant impact on overweight and obesity rates in Germany. Within the Decade of Action on Nutrition, the government should set the legal and political framework conditions to promote healthy and sustainable diets. This includes situational prevention measures, e.g. taxes on unhealthy foods, labelling, the removal of persuasive elements from packaging, mandatory regulations for public procurement to ensure that food which is provided in canteens, schools etc. contributes to diversified healthy diets and is from environmentally and socially sustainable production.

On an international level, Germany should move forward towards monitoring and reducing adverse impacts of its policies on food and nutrition security and the right to adequate food beyond its own national borders. This requires closer coordination of public policies in different sectors (agriculture, health, education, environment, trade, finance and others) and at different levels and the definition of clear responsibilities.

Germany is a main donor in the field of sustainable food and nutrition security. The Decade provides the momentum for a significant increase of ODA funding for nutrition. This should be focused on least developed countries and the groups most affected by malnutrition and address the structural determinants of malnutrition.

To conclude, for a successful and lasting international Decade of Action on Nutrition it is necessary to formulate a systematic, detailed and coherent strategy to implement the actions proposed in the ICN2 Framework for Action at different levels. A monitoring system should be set up which allows for meaningful participation of civil society actors, particularly those most affected by malnutrition, and should, at a global level be led by the UN, especially WHO, FAO and UNSCN, and at a national level, by member states.