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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Open discussion on the first draft work programme of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition

Rocco Renaldi
Rocco RenaldiThe International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA)Switzerland

The International Food & Beverage Alliance welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on the first draft (dated 27 January 2017) of the Work Programme of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, 2016-2015 (the “Nutrition Decade”). [1]

The Nutrition Decade calls for a global collective effort towards eradicating hunger and preventing all forms of malnutrition worldwide, to be implemented locally by Member States and their partners, working within existing structures and available resources. The Nutrition Decade will act as the umbrella for coordinating and aligning the nutrition actions of multiple actors across all sectors to achieve nutrition impact at scale and a healthier, more sustainable future.  

In general, we agree with many of the key components of the draft Work Programme, particularly its aims, guiding principles, key action areas, and accountability framework. 

We support the overall aim of the Work Programme to provide a clearly-defined, time-bound operational framework for governments to adopt and implement nutrition-related initiatives to create sustainable food systems and enabling environments that promote healthy dietary practices and support the fulfillment of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) commitments and achievement of the diet-related NCD targets by 2025 and the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. 

We support a Work Programme that is guided by the principles of inclusivity – maximizing the participation of a wide range of stakeholders and sectors, involving all countries and addressing the needs of all people everywhere.  We are pleased that the Work Programme acknowledge the contribution the private sector can make to the Nutrition Decade.   

We recognize the unique role the food and non-alcoholic beverage industry has to play in global nutrition and have committed to do our part to help consumers worldwide achieve healthy and sustainable diets. We also support the need for a transparent mechanism for tracking progress and ensuring mutual accountability for the commitments made. 

As proposed, the Work Programme seeks to assume a coordinating role among all actors and across all sectors to consolidate, align and reinforce nutrition actions; build on existing efforts to improve nutrition worldwide; and accelerate actions and expand the geographic and sectoral scope of actions.  We support this role. 

The action areas outlined in the Work Programme are centered on six pillars, derived from the recommendations of the ICN2 Framework for Action and representing a broad range of policy actions for addressing all forms of malnutrition:

·         Sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets;

·         Aligned health systems providing universal coverage of essential nutrition actions;

·         Social protection and nutrition education;

·         Trade and investment for improved nutrition;

·         Safe and supportive environments for nutrition at all ages; and

·         Strengthened nutrition governance and accountability.

Many of the action areas reflect the strategies and initiatives IFBA members have been implementing for many years. We are formulating and innovating products that support the goal of improving diets – reducing key nutrients of public health concern, adding nutrients to reduce micronutrient deficiencies and promoting food components and food groups beneficial for good health, such as fibre, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.  The provision of nutrition information to consumers forms the cornerstone of any policy framework to address poor dietary intakes and to promote healthier eating habits. We are providing nutrition information to consumers to help empower them to make informed dietary decisions tailored to their needs and lifestyles.  We are restricting marketing to children; and promoting balanced diets and healthy lifestyles in our workplaces and in the communities we serve.  We are raising awareness of the importance of good nutrition and promoting behavior change through our collaborations with governments and NGOs in public education campaigns and in schools and communities.   

Improving food security worldwide requires the collective effort of all stakeholders. We support actions for sustainable food systems that promote healthy and safe diets and strategies that integrate nutrition and food safety objectives into food and agriculture policies and strengthen local food production and processing.  As food and beverage companies that both depend on food production for its raw material and seek to deliver nutritious foods and beverages to consumers, IFBA members are committed to sustainable agriculture and the transition to a sustainable food future – innovating more food choices by using fewer natural resources. We are also working with our suppliers and smallholder farmers to promote sustainable supply chains, helping to increase farmer knowledge and yields, improve their livelihoods and build thriving communities.

The Work Programme calls for the establishment of action networks - informal coalitions of countries aimed at advocating for the establishment of policies, sharing best practices and providing mutual support to accelerate implementation.  Table 1 lists potential topics for the establishment of action networks.  We would suggest, to ensure consistency, that on the basis the six action areas are derived from the recommendations of the ICN2 Framework for Action, so too should the Table 1 topics.

We are supportive of the establishment of these action networks and are committed to lend our support and technical expertise to these efforts.  IFBA members are participating in successful multistakeholder coalitions, such as PAHO’s SaltSmart Consortium and the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement and believe an action network can be a successful vehicle for implementation of the commitments to action, provided there is a coherent and sustained alignment of efforts, “win-win” based terms of reference, an agreed set of actions, clear rules of engagement and defined roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder, transparency and accountability and measured progress towards stated objectives.  Given the number of existing alliances and initiatives, we believe the Work Programme will benefit from clearly defined terms of engagement and an explanation as to how the Nutrition Decade will interact with existing alliances and initiatives to ensure increased focus and action.

We are encouraged to see that the Work Programme recognizes that actions taken by governments and other stakeholders must rely on the latest scientific evidence. We, too, believe that policy initiatives must be supported by strong scientific evidence – we need to understand what works and why. Given our significant research and development capacity, we believe there are real opportunities for collaborative research. We welcome the opportunity to share our technical expertise of nutrition science and consumer behavior with a view to finding new and relevant ways to leverage and collaborate on the science needed to improve food security and nutrition.

We support the establishment of repositories and knowledge-sharing mechanisms at national, regional and global levels and are willing to share our best practices on product reformulation, salt reduction strategies, nutrition labelling, responsible marketing practices and workplace wellness programmes.

We are committed to leading our industry in efforts to improve public health and look forward to working with all stakeholders to understand the most helpful role we can play toward realizing our shared goal of eradicating hunger and preventing all forms of malnutrition worldwide.  

We are grateful for the opportunity to provide our comments and look forward to participating in further dialogues and consultations with the joint FAO/WHO Secretariat as work to develop the Work Programme continues.

[1] IFBA is an alliance of eleven multinational companies – The Coca-Cola Company, Ferrero, General Mills, Grupo Bimbo, Kellogg’s, Mars, McDonald’s, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever – who share a common goal of helping people around the world achieve balanced diets and healthy, active lifestyles.