WFP-FAO co-led Post 2015 Global Thematic Consultation on Hunger, Food Security and Nutrition

19-11-2012 - 10-01-2013

The discussion is now closed.

See below the contributions received or download the proceedings.
Summary of key themes emerged from the discussion is available here

This is YOUR OPPORTUNITY to contribute to this global debate.

As the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, a number of processes have been put in place to seek inputs from country, regional and global levels, into the “Post-2015 Development Agenda and Framework”.  For more background information click here.

This is your opportunity to help identify the actions, goals, targets and indicators needed to achieve food and nutrition security, and the eradication of hunger, in a post-2015 world.  Many food security and nutrition policies, strategies and action plans have been written over the past number of  years.  Challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in a sustainable way have been identified, and many countries are making good progress.  Nevertheless, close to 870 million people around the world remain undernourished and do not have access to a healthy diet.  It is time for everyone to take urgent action – in a concerted manner – and to elaborate a new development agenda around lasting concerns of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

The outcome of this e-consultation, together with the proposed CFS consultation, will feed into the high level experts consultation to be hosted by the Government of Spain in March 2013.

Ultimately, your contributions will feed into the UN General Assembly discussions beginning September 2013 for the elaboration of an agreed post 2015 global development agenda.

E-Consultation: next four weeks

Over the next four weeks, FAO and WFP will facilitate this e-consultation in drawing on the widest possible group of stakeholders and interested parties on how best to address hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition at all levels, and to seek your inputs on the elaboration of a new agenda for action beyond the current MDG framework.

We also invite you to submit papers, findings, or on-going work on the topic of hunger, food and nutrition security.

We seek your inputs on the following three themes:

Theme 1

(i) What do you see as the key lessons learned during the current Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Framework (1990-2015), in particular in relation to the MDGs of relevance to hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition? 

(ii) What do you consider the main challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years?

Theme 2

What works best?  Drawing on existing knowledge, please tell us how we should go about addressing the hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition challenges head on.  Provide us with your own experiences and insights.  For example, how important are questions of improved governance, rights-based approaches, accountability and political commitment in achieving food and nutrition security? 

Furthermore, how could we best draw upon current initiatives, including the Zero Hunger Challenge, launched by the UN Secretary General at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (, and the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition elaborated by the CFS?

Theme 3

For the Post-2015 Global Development Framework to be complete, global (and regional or national) objectives, targets and indicators will be identified towards tackling hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.  A set of objectives has been put forward by the UN Secretary-General under Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC):

  1. 100% access to adequate food all year round
  2. Zero stunted children less than 2 years old
  3. All food systems are sustainable
  4. 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
  5. Zero loss or waste of food.

Please provide us with your feedback on the above list of objectives – or provide your own proposals.  Should some objectives be country-specific, or regional, rather than global? Should the objectives be time-bound?


Contribution received:

Saba Mebrahtu UNICEF, Nepal

Dear All,

Thank you for this opportunity to comment.  

Multi-setor partnership is crucial for achieving the goal of zero stunted children less than 2 years old - which in turn requires high level political commitment to bring all the key sectors on board, and to committ to work towards attaining this goal in a coherent and coordinated manner.  

(1) Ensuring 100% access to adequate food all year round is essential but it is not sufficient - other causes of chronic under-nutrition need to be addressed simultaneously - such as access to improved sanitation, safe water and hygiene.  This will require for instance - the agriculture sector partnering with Ministry responsible for water resource management and promotion of hygiene practices - which is often the domain of two Ministries - Public Health + Water resouce management etc.. 

(2) My concern would be that the poor with very limited or no access to productive resources (e.g poor landless laborers) will be missed from agriculture based interventions which aim to improve productivity of small-scale farm households - such as disadvantaged families or vulnerable population groups. An approach that has been proven effetive is social transfers (in kind or cash tansfers) to protect the most vulnerable from food insecurity, hunger and chronic under-nutrition.   In that case, strenghtening partnership between health/nutritin and social protection sectors is crucial to ensure that   these schemes have adequate duration - during the narrow window of opportnity (pregnancy to two years of age), adequate value, and are combined with nutrition education for better nutritional outcomes.

(3) I am also concerned that gender is not emphasized enough - there are a number of gender related factors that need to be tackled (e.g. early marriage, heavy workload and poor care during pregnancy which are largely due to traditional beliefs and women's low social status).    So, unless maternal care and nutrition is seriously tackled - it will be difficult to achieve the zero stunting goal by the age of two years.  Here Civil Society could play an important role - to help bring about social and behaviour change.  I feel that this is not emphasized enough especially in the above five objectives. 

All in all agriculture and food-based approach needs to be well integrated in a coherent manner with WASH/Social Protection/gender to achieve results,  and an important pre-requisite is a high level political commitment to coordinate the key relevant Ministries including Civil Society.   

Simon Ross Population Matters, United Kingdom

We believe that addressing the demand side, population growth and high per capita consumption, is an important part of any strategy for food and nutrition security.

Simon Ross

Population Matters


Sébastien Paque WFP, Ecuador


Buenos días,


Son interesantes los aportes de todos. Me permito dar mi contribución al debate:


Pienso que la lección principal es que el sistema agroalimentario actual no permite lograr los ODM relevantes para el hambre, la inseguridad alimentaria y la desnutrición y además va en contra del ODM 7 (sostenibilidad del medio ambiente).

El principal reto a futuro es construir sistemas alimentarios que puedan de verdad alimentar a todos de forma correcta, sin perjudicar al medio ambiente y a las generaciones futuras. Estos sistemas deberían estar centrados en el campesino, valorando su rol en la sociedad y dándole las oportunidades de mantener una vida digna, considerando que actualmente muchas personas que padecen del hambre son campesinos o viven en zona rural.

La principal oportunidad es la presencia aún de pequeños campesinos y de saberes campesinos que nos ofrecen construir sistemas alimentarios diferentes, adaptados a cada contexto local. Además, en muchas partes del mundo, han nacido iniciativas de  campesinos/consumidores que demuestran que otros sistemas son posibles (ferias solidarias, canastas, cooperativa, huertos urbanos, granjas de formación, fincas agroecológicas, etc.). Estas experiencias deben ser replicadas.


El sistema alimentario debería basarse en la agricultura campesina familiar para asegurar la soberanía alimentaria de los países o regiones. El principal objetivo del sistema alimentario debe ser alimentar a las poblaciones y no el negocio. Es necesario garantizar el acceso a los campesinos a los medios de producción (tierra, agua, capital, etc.) a través de reformas agrarias adaptadas.

La producción agrícola debería basarse en la agroecológica para lograr la sostenibilidad energética y ambiental y así independizarla del petróleo y de las multinacionales. Para eso, es importante repensar la formación e investigación. La formación de los agricultores y agrónomos debe ser repensada y basada sobre la práctica. Los presupuestos de investigación se deberían redirigir a las técnicas agroecológicas y a la agricultura campesina de pequeña escala, con un enfoque particular a la agricultura de los países del Sur.

Hay que tomar medidas, para que las tierras cultivables sean cultivadas para alimentar a las poblaciones y no para producir biocombustibles.

Habría que repensar la producción, la transformación y la comercialización a un nivel local. Los circuitos cortos deben ser priorizados acabando con los alimentos kilométricos.

Por otro lado habría que cambiar los patrones de consumo ya que sabemos que el consumo alto de proteínas animales, que se está imponiendo actualmente, no es sostenible a un nivel ambiental y energético. Por otro lado, las poblaciones menos favorecidas necesitan ser capacitadas para poder aprovechar de la mejor forma los alimentos al nivel nutricional.

Un saludo desde Quito.


Maria Eugenia Rinaudo Mannucci Environmental Analyst, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

First I would like to thank the whole team that made ​​this public consultation on the major challenges we face in the world.

By the way, I would like to share with you, this famous phrase of Vandana Shiva: "Humans have forgotten that water comes from rain and the food comes from the earth. We came to believe that food and water are the products of a company".

Theme 1

Initially, I think that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are major challenges for today's global society. They are facing in cooperation and governmental and institutional partnerships to improve the quality of life of millions of people at the present time, suffer from poverty, hunger and lack of development in their communities. 

We learned a lot about the evolution of the MDGs over the years, which, in my opinion, all have been successful, however, I revealed several challenges still remain to be fulfilled in relation to objectives 1, 3, 4, 6 and 8. Global efforts undertaken by the United Nations with governments and communities has been really important and satisfying. I think we are on the right way to combat the major global challenges such as poverty, hunger and climate change (economic and environmental issue that directly affects the aforementioned issues).


I think these are the profound challenges we face:
  • - Effective international cooperation to combat hunger and poverty. Continue to encourage the training of persons to offices of local interest, which may contribute to endogenous development and at the same time to the local economy.
  • - Undertake eco-social studies to determine the influence of climatic changes in high-risk areas, as well as generate and develop action plans to deal with natural disasters caused by climate change (mitigation and adaptation).
  • -Advancing international alliances to promote a "climate-smart agriculture", thus we will be contributing to the creation of carbon sinks, creating green jobs and promoting sustainability and food security.

Another important point that I want to share with you, is the importance of adaptation plans to climate change in agriculture to promote food security and curb poverty and hunger. In Venezuela, I had the opportunity to participate in the final discussion of an Adpatation Program for Climate Change in Venezuelan Agriculture, project that was funded by UNDP to promote development and enhance food security in the country. Studies conducted during this project, unveiled agricultural crops which are more resistant to climate impacts and at the same time, favorable to human health.

At the present time, has not yet been made ​​effective this plan, however, we are in the process of generating new local discussions to that end.
Theme 2
I think that the strategies that have been developing some countries like: strengthening the capacity of communities through local development, education and application of green technologies for sustainable agriculture, are the main ways we must to take to tackle poverty and hunger.
The establishment of green energy technologies and climatically vulnerable areas should be a priority for improving socio-ecological conditions. For example, the construction of solar cookers, is an important and easy to promote local development and ensure as far as possible, adequate food intake.
As for my opinion on the current initiatives on the promotion of food security and the eradication of poverty, I think both campaigns mentioned in the question are viable and are doing their best to inform, educate and build partnerships to promote development and prevent hunger. Are represented by ethical and professional technicians, which, I'm sure will continue doing good work in cooperation with local and international campaigns.
Theme 3
I agree with all these objectives outlined above, however, I think the main challenge ahead is to encourage all governments (with different development models and political views) to work towards these goals.
For example, the case of Latin America is important to evaluate these objectives mentioned above. This continete, is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, which helps to strengthen agricultural production for the welfare of citizens (provided, either through a sustainable production). Despite this, the vast majority of people in this space, suffer from hunger. According to the latest report from the FAO (2012), more than 33 million people suffer from hunger (only in South America).
We must recognize that Latin America has a massive program to eradicate hunger and poverty called "Latin America and the Caribbean without Hunger" and that according to previous figures, has fallen quite the number of citizens who suffer from this. 
However, there are countries in this region that have not taken proper measures to control poverty and hunger. I can properly say that Venezuela is one of them, which unfortunately, in recent years has increased the number of poor in the country, which do not have sufficient financial support for food unfit for consumption.
Our food production capacity has fallen dramatically over the years, while imports have increased despite having large number of nature reserves, agricultural and livestock, as well as, qualified for these tasks.
So I think that our current challenge in relation to these objectives is to promote the governments, the interest required to be agents of change with international organizations committed to these challenges.
Thank you so much!
Mohammad Monirul Hasan Institute of Microfinance (InM), University of Bonn, Germany


Though there are flaws in the objective function of MGDs, the achievement in terms of goal is praiseworthy. Much works has been done for the challenges of MDG implementation. But there are lot of challenges and pitfalls in the process of implementation and sustainability of the process. It looks nice that the goals have been achieved, but the sustainability of the goals is really a big question today. I would like to highlight my ideas on the thematic topics in the Bangladeshi perspective.


In Bangladesh, it is reported that by the government and also by UNDP that most of the MDGs are almost achieved and some are very close to the targets. It is very impressive and government can make it a political success and brag about their achievement. But there are some real issues that need to be address that I will highlight.

In goal Poverty and Hunger, Bangladesh has reduced poverty to 31.5% in 2010 according to National data. It is also proved by other dataset also that the rate of extreme poverty has declined to almost 30%. This is a good achievement for Bangladesh. But another question is very crucial now, is it enough to measure poverty by 2122 kilocalorie per day? Where only two plate of rice can generate this energy, the other requirement of the human body is ignored. People are having rice everyday but the nutrition that they need is not sufficient. As a result lot of diseases are attacking them and they are becoming vulnerable. So only 2122kilocaloire a day or $2.00 a day should not be the measurement of poverty. I think poverty has lot of dimension. According to the Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, poverty has more dimensions that are now being measured. So I think the measuring poverty in terms of kilocalorie is misleading and not accurate.

Bangladesh also has improved universal primary education and gender equality to a great extent. It is also is on track in reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS. Bangladesh has also improved the safe drinking water and sanitary latrines to the poorest people. But still a lot of works need to be done.

Challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years

Objective function: It is very important in the next agenda to set the objective function that really faces the challenges of 21st century. It is shame to the mankind that some people are starving for days without food and some are wasting foods. Even the measurement of poverty is wrong. Of course, 2122 kilocalorie is important but this should have at least some variety of sources, like carbohydrate, protein, fat, minerals etc. nutrition issue should be more emphasized in the next agenda. In the education level, people should have able to read, write and ability to read the newspaper in their own language. Proper health care should be ensured to the mother and children and also the seniors those who are out of income category. Now days those who have money can avail good medical care in Bangladesh, because most of the people don’t have any medical insurance and savings to bear the medical expenses. They somehow got primary treatment, but they never goes to the professional doctors. This is very important to have either health insurance or provide sufficient medial doctors to the local areas.

Governance and sustainability: The process of implementing of MDGs is having lot of corruption and misuse of resources. Most of the targeted households are illiterate and they can’t protest this corruption by their own and they believe that the program is like an aid. But the problem should be address from the government. So in the next agenda, corruption and governance issue should be incorporated. Sustainability of the program should also be ensured, because some household today seems to be graduated from poverty but anytime they can also fall into the poverty again, because the sustainable income generating activity is required to make them get out of poverty and nutrition issues. Otherwise, the program will not be successful.


Theme 2:

It is very important to establish good governance, accountability and also political commitment in achieving food and nutrition security. Because in a country like Bangladesh, corruption is the main hurdle for eradicating poverty. Corruption is everywhere. The victims are the poor people those who need help and those who seek service. From healthcare to job sector, you have to bribe the authority. It becomes an open secret matter. Everyone knows but no one can do anything. Civil society is shouting but the government itself is corrupted. The security, law and order, police everyone is corrupted. So whenever, a goal like MDGs comes the fifty percentage of money goes to the pocket of the authority. So Political will, accountability and governance should be improved in the country. There should be a goal in the next agenda that corruption level should be declined by more than 50% by next five years.



Theme 3:

I think the set of objectives that has been put forward by the UN Secretary-General under Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC) is alright.

a.   100% access to adequate food all year round

b.    Zero stunted children less than 2 years old

c.    All food systems are sustainable

d.    100% increase in smallholder productivity and income

e.    Zero loss or waste of food.

f.    Zero corruption in development projects like MDG goals.

g.   Sustainability of the food and nutrition program

h.   Climate change affected people should be most priority and full support with zero corruption.

i.    Increase the social security for all, especially for the vulnerable people.

j.   Access to communication technology to all.


These goals may be in some cases country specific and regional also. The climate, culture and geography are different from country to country. So region specific goals should also be addressed in the next agenda.  


Mohammad Monirul Hasan 

Senior Research Associate, InM

Emily Levitt Ruppert FAO/WFP Facilitation Team, United States of America

Dear Colleagues,

A series of comments have come in during this e-consultation about the importance of maintaining a multisectoral approach to addressing hunger, food and nutrition security. However, in the new post-2015 framework, many have recommended a more integrated approach (integrated framework) rather than a list of the respective thematic goals without clear links between them. This is a noted weakness of the MDGs.


ACF's contribution noted: "the countries that have had most success in bringing down rates of undernutrition, six key success factors – 1) strong political will; 2) civil society participation and ownership; 3) a multi-sectorial approach; 4) institutional coordination; 5) a multi- phase approach and; 6) continued, predictable financial investment - make up an ideal ‘enabling
environment’, which if in place should facilitate a reduction in rates of childhood undernutrition. In contexts with the most demonstrable success, all six factors are present in varying degrees.
" (link to ACF's full contribution)

Claudio Schuftan in Vietnam added: "An adaptation of the already well accepted UNICEF framework is perhaps the best way to address this omission." (link to Claudio's full contribution)


What thoughts do participants in this e-consultation have about how to have a more integrated set of multisectoral goals (contributing to the hunger, food and nutrition security goal/outcomes) in the overall post-2015 framework? Are there effective country examples that exist in national development frameworks that could be used as models/templates?


Emily Levitt Ruppert
Member of the FAO/WFP Facilitation Team


Claudio Schuftan PHM, Viet Nam

II. Qs on the shape of a post-2015 development framework:


5. How should a new framework address the causes of poverty?


Based on the new conceptual framework on the causes of maldevelopment I plead be arrived at by consensus, the post 2015 framework will importantly have to work on deconstructing neoliberal globalization --the latest incarnation of raw capitalism. Why? Because it is not about the alleviation of poverty (much less about the chance of eradicating it); it is about a quantum reduction of disparity the world over --among and within countries. It is about working out new mechanisms of redistribution of wealth and power. And such a redistribution will only come through empowerment and social mobilization from below; with people going from having voice to exerting influence. I worry that all the good intentions of the UN to address the structural causes of poverty in the conceptual framework will lead to another 10 years of failure if it does not politicize this issue. The rich have no intentions to give up their power and privileges; non-violent counter-power has to be organized and applied. Dialogue has to become a dialogue of equals. 


6. How should a new framework address resilience to crises?


Ultimately, the common denominator of most of the man-made crises can be attributed to the excesses of capitalism. Decisive steps must be taken by the new framework to foster the social mobilization needed to make sure effective disparity reduction measures are launched nationally and internationally. [ Internationally, this means giving accredited NGOs a seat, voice and vote in UN and in government deliberations. Environmental crises have both natural and man-made causes. As Rio and Rio+20 have shown us, we can effectively address the latter. The new framework must depart from this premise and thus, as a minimum, incorporate Rio+20 recommendations.


7. How should a new framework address the dimensions of economic growth, equity, social equality and environmental sustainability? Is an overall focus on poverty eradication sufficiently broad to capture the range of sustainable development issues?


The economic growth model has been shown to be unsustainable, mostly (but not only) on environmental grounds. Does the new framework have an option not to deemphasize economic growth as the main development goal? It actually needs to denounce it in no uncertain terms.

Reaching equity and social equality inevitably points to the fact that both need the processes of empowerment and social mobilization I insisted-upon earlier.


For environmental sustainability, the roadmap has already been worked-on by the experts in  Rio and Rio+20 so that the new framework has to adopt its recommendations.


As said, the focus ought not to be on poverty eradication, but on disparity reduction which has connotations for urgently needed actions both in rich and in poor countries including changes in many, if not most, aspects of ODA.


The disparity reduction approach is necessary, but not sufficient to capture the range of sustainable development issues. Rio+20 is clear about this.


8. What should be the architecture of the next framework? What is the role of the SDGs in a broader post-2015 framework? How to account for qualitative progress?


The broader architecture of the next framework must absolutely be based on the human rights framework. Enough of lip service. It is time for deeds (related, nothing less, than to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the UN Charter). From now on, we have to look at the development process from the perspective of claim holders and duty bearers in their dialectic relationship. This language must be adopted and both groups have to be made more confident and assertive in their respective roles, i.e., claim holders placing concrete demands/staking claims and duty bearers abiding by UN Covenants, Conventions and General Comments. The concept of progressive realization is another one to be given center stage.


The role of the Sustainable Development Goals is also key. We only have one planet! Heed the recommendations from Rio!


Also related to the architecture, there will have to be a global UN body with executive powers following up on the implementation of the new framework. (The MDGs did not really have this; it was left to countries to apply them; there was no global accountability). This body must be endowed with funding. It must have some kind of an executive ombudsperson role on issues of implementation and must work towards influencing international financing mechanisms being made available.


To account for qualitative progress, yearly benchmarks have to be set by each country (especially for the poorest districts/municipalities) based on processes that must be implemented en route to the progressive realization of the different human rights. Civil society organizations are to be appointed as watch dogs for the achievement of these benchmarks; they need to receive funds specially earmarked for this.


9. Should (social, economic, and environmental) drivers and enablers of poverty reduction and sustainable development, such as components of inclusive growth, also be included as goals?


The word enablers is a rather vague one. So is inclusive growth. I had already suggested a) that we need to deemphasize economic growth as the main development goal, b) that the selection of outcome goals is likely to be less useful than the use, inclusion and of yearly processes-achievement benchmarks, and c) that disparity reduction, and not poverty reduction, is the term to be used from now on.


Indeed, the three drivers mentioned in the question need to be tackled --but absolutely not forgetting a fourth one, namely the political driver. Each is necessary, but not sufficient. [The UN being non-political is to be understood in terms of non-political-partisan, but, by God, it needs to act more decisively on issues political in nature it strongly stands for; therefore, when needed, calling a spade a spade. Some agencies do it more that others].


10. What time horizon should we set for the next phase in the global development agenda (e.g., 10, 15, 25 years, or a combination)?


I am more inclined for five years with yearly-interval benchmarks as yardsticks of progressive realization. Yearly achievements/shortcomings can thus be assessed and adjustments made accordingly, as needed, in a participatory manner. With the world changing as fast as it does, I am sure that major adjustments are justified every five years --at least at the country level.


11. What principles and criteria should guide the choice of a new set of goals?

The human rights principles of non-retrogression, universality and inalienability, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness, equality and non-discrimination, participation and inclusion, and accountability and rule of law are, once and for all, to guide the new framework. The assessment of these principles being respected is to be built-in into assessing annual benchmarks.


The main criterion that must go with this is for countries to be mandated to participatorily draw-up long-term and annual plans for the progressive realization of human rights Human rights are all closely related to the development process. (Such plans could be a requirement for ODA as well). The new framework must demand these progressive realization plans be drawn up.

Paul Larsen WFP, Norway

1. Hunger reduction needs to be targeted as a distinct political and policy goal of the highest priority, and separate from poverty: we have seen that the poverty MDG1 was reached, while the hunger part of MDG1 was thrown off track by the food crisis since 2008. Hunger thus requires particular attention and efforts.


2. Hunger targets must capture individual access to food and nutrition, in particular for children under five, and include the broadest possible data on stunting as well as underweight, calorie as well as micronutrient deficiencies, and individual, household, and community as well as national level statistics.


3. Given the crucial importance of child nutrition during the first 1000 days after conception, hunger indicators should capture the impact of emergency and acute under-nutrition, including of pregnant and lactating mothers, as well as of chronic hunger, to guide high-impact investments and interventions.

Etienne du Vachat Action Against Hunger (ACF), France

Dear all,


Here is Action Against Hunger - ACF's contribution to the consultation on hunger, food and nutrition security within the post-2015 development agenda.


We hope you will find it interesting.


With our best wishes for 2013,

Etienne du Vachat

Food Security Advocacy Officer

ACF-France (Paris)




Theme 1: lessons learnt from the current MDG framework


While we recognize the importance of having a framework that is both clearly defined and workable like the MDGs were, we think the next framework for development should be more comprehensive and call for more accountability. Clearly, the political and financial commitments have not been strong enough to translate the goals into full success. Indeed, despite the fact that the MDGs were built upon concrete goals, with quantifiable targets that were relatively simple to understand and monitor, some goals will not be achieved in the given timeframe. Furthermore, the chosen indicators and targets tend to give a truncated – and thus bias – picture of complex problems.


Comments regarding the indicators on hunger in the current MDG framework and suggestions for improvement:


There is currently one target (1.C) focusing on hunger – ‘Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger’ – that comes together with two indicators:


1.8 – Prevalence of underweight children under-five years of age


  1. 1.9 – Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption


These indicators could be improved:


Regarding the indicators:


  • Underweight (weight/age) is a composite indicator whose interpretation is difficult as age is often not precisely estimated. In the next framework for development, two other indicators should be systematically added to this one:
    • The height/age that describes stunting
    • The weight/height that describes wasting


Computing these three indicators is the only way of reflecting the various aspects of child malnutrition.


  • The indicator 1.9, in analyzing only the level of dietary energy consumption (= calories), does not take into account “hidden-hunger”, which refers to micronutrient deficiencies (= chronic lack of vitamins and minerals) and is most of the time not visible. To better assess that issue, it is urgent to come to a consensus on what would be the best indicator (or suite of indicators) to reflect access to and consumption of nutritionally adequate diet at macro level. The dietary diversity scores[1] used by FANTA and FAO could be a basis to draw upon.
  • Indicators should be disaggregated as much as possible to highlight inequalities/discriminations between groups of population according to their location (rural/urban areas), age and gender. Ideally, indicators should also be time-disaggregated to show the cyclical character of hunger. Underlying disparities in data must enable governments to accurately target policies (i.e. safety nets, food assistance) on the most vulnerable and nutritionally at-risk groups. 


Regarding the reference population:


  • The indicators of the next framework for development must be exclusively based on the WHO Child Growth Standards of 2006 if they are to accurately reflect undernutrition prevalence[2].


Current challenges and opportunities:


The current MDG framework reflects a sectorial approach that must be renewed, so as to better take on the new global challenges. Among those, food price volatility, climate change and demographic growth are key issues to food and nutrition security. Recurrent challenges such as vulnerability to socioeconomic and climate related shocks have intensified, further enforcing the need for a post 2015 agenda to promote resilience by addressing vulnerability. Donors, governments and NGOs alike have traditionally placed too little focus on building resilience within communities before crises occur, choosing instead to focus on tackling hunger and disease during or after the crisis. Furthermore, recurring crises are typically perceived as “humanitarian” issues in need of an immediate, short-term response when in fact a twin track approach with adequate resources is needed, ensuring that the immediate needs of vulnerable populations are met while simultaneously building the longer-term resilience of communities at risk from recurring food crises.


It is very likely that the objective on hunger in the current MDGs framework will not be achieved by 2015. It is thus crucial to make a larger room to undernutrition in the post-2015 development agenda, ideally through both a nutrition-specific goal and nutritional indicators within the other goals. New initiatives such as the SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) movement show that awareness on the importance of nutrition for long term human development is raising. They also convey the message that cost-effective, high impact interventions now exist to address the problem of undernutrition, and that those interventions – that are both direct (or nutrition-specific) and indirect – should be implemented following a twin track approach. A momentum has thus been created, but it must be enhanced by a clear objective on nutrition in the next agenda for development.


Theme 2: what works best to address hunger and under-nutrition?


ACF’s Zero Hunger series produced in 2011[3], found that in the countries that have had most success in bringing down rates of undernutrition, six key success factors – 1) strong political will; 2) civil society participation and ownership; 3) a multi-sectorial approach; 4) institutional coordination; 5) a multi-phase approach and; 6) continued, predictable financial investment - make up an ideal ‘enabling environment’, which if in place should facilitate a reduction in rates of childhood undernutrition. In contexts with the most demonstrable success, all six factors are present in varying degrees.


Agriculture contributes to nutrition through 3 main pathways: direct production for farming households; increased incomes for rural societies and pushing down food prices.


However, hunger and food insecurity are not only a matter of agriculture, although it is a very important contributing factor. If a strong focus has to be placed on smallholder agriculture, it is important to address other food security related aspects as well, such as income generation, urban livelihoods, food assistance and social protection.


Moreover, even though undernutrition is strongly linked to food security, the latter does not necessarily guarantee a satisfactory nutritional situation. Indeed, nutrition is determined by a large variety of factors that goes far beyond food security, among which are women’s education and income, child care practices, access to quality health services, family planning, coverage of vaccination, availability and access to clean/protected water sources and to adequate sanitation facilities, etc.


Furthermore, it is acknowledged that female empowerment, enabling women to have control over household resources, brings significant gains in nutrition. As such, it must be put at the heart of programmes.


Hence, ACF advocates for the development of a nutrition-sensitive agriculture[4], so that agricultural interventions translate to significant improvements in nutrition outcomes. ACF’s field experience has demonstrated the importance of nutrition-sensitive agriculture at the household level. For example, the development of kitchen gardens has the potential to improve dietary diversity, particularly if in conjunction with small scale livestock rearing. Nutrition-sensitive policies can pave the way not only to long term agricultural investments to raise smallholder farmers’ productivity but also to developing a cross-disciplinary approach linking nutrition with agriculture, gender, health, social protection, and dietary education.


Theme 3: the Zero Hunger Challenge


The ZHC admittedly sets an interesting frame for objectives on the global food system. However, although it provides a more holistic way of looking at hunger and points out that adopting a long term vision is necessary to reach food and nutrition security, it appears more like wishful thinking than a seriously defined, realistic, time-bound set of objectives.


Those should be modified so as to be achievable on the medium-term timeframe that is likely to be settled for the post-2015 framework, i.e. to 2030-5. Country or regional level roadmaps which break down the goals into discrete time-bound targets and actions should be drawn up. It is necessary to specify targeted levels of improvement according to the different contexts. For instance concerning the objective (d), the appropriate percentage of increase in smallholders’ productivity should be based on national negotiations with all stakeholders – particularly farmers’ representatives – and be accompanied by financial commitments.


Targets may also differ from one country to another according to the specific actions each country must undertake to reach the objective. For example, whereas the sustainability of agriculture practices is a stake in both developed and developing, unsustainable agriculture practices do not have the same roots and consequences in the North and in the South, and policies must be designed accordingly. In developing countries an important lever would be to facilitate access to credit, develop adequate financing mechanisms and safety nets for farmers so that they don’t adopt short term behaviors that are detrimental to them and the environment.


It is very important to link this objective of sustainability with the one on increased farmers’ productivity, so that increasing food and nutrition security at household level does not lead to fostering highly productive and cash crop agriculture systems. Traditional systems are often the most resilient and can be highly productive as well, even though they are not always oriented towards income generation. The key is that the transition must be farmer-owned and controlled, and oriented towards local and regional markets rather than export markets, as has been the case until now through two decades of perverse international and national policies and incentives. Improvements to local irrigation, road, storage, processing, market and credit infrastructure are also critical to making that happen. Furthermore, emphasis must be put on women farmers and the necessity to close the gap between men and women in access to inputs, as it is stressed in the ‘Global Strategy Framework for Food Security and Nutrition’.  Improving living conditions in the country should also be regarded as an important issue. Rural areas must be revitalized to become more attractive to young people and businesses.


The objective (e.) on food waste and losses is also very relevant to smallholders’ livelihoods and food and nutrition security, considering the 30% of pre- and postharvest loss every year. To avoid these losses, smallholder farmers use to sell their production right after harvesting, hence exposing themselves to early food shortage while often selling their production cheaply. Harvest losses are thus quite strongly linked with the seasonality of hunger, itself due to the seasonality of harvest, income and prices, which leads to shorter or longer hunger gaps periods and recurrent crises. Hence, achieving the objective (a) will greatly depends on the reduction of food losses. This can be done notably through investments in storage and post-harvest processing equipment, and also through environment-friendly pest and disease control.


Finally, indicators should be both measurable at country level and at global level. They should be disaggregated when possible so as to enable the design of effective policies, and be as comprehensive as possible. This is particularly important for the objective (b) on child’s undernutrition. By focusing on stunting, it takes only one aspect of undernutrition into account. Yet, adopting a holistic approach of undernutrition allows tackling it more effectively. Hence, the objective should embrace the several aspects of malnutrition, i.e. stunting, wasting and underweight. It should be also be stressed that children with wasting are at higher risk for linear growth retardation, hence, addressing wasting is a way of preventing stunting. Furthermore, the wording of the objective should be changed, so as to encompass the idea of ‘window of opportunity’, to highlight the importance of mothers’ good health during the antenatal period and to encompass other underlying factors leading to under-nutrition.



[2] According to WHO and UNICEF, “Using the new WHO standards in developing country situation results in a 2-4 times increase in the number of infants and children falling below -3 SD compared to using the former NCHS reference”. Joint statement available here:


[4] FAO’s definition of nutrition-sensitive agriculture: “Agriculture that effectively and explicitly incorporates nutrition objectives, concerns, and considerations to achieve food and nutrition security.”

Claudio Schuftan PHM, Viet Nam

I. Qs on lessons learned and context:


1. What have the MDGs achieved? What lessons can be learned about designing goals to have maximum impact?


The mix of MDGs achievements/shortcomings is by now well known. The question here is: Do we really want to set goals --in terms of outcomes? Or do we rather want to set (annual) benchmarks --much more related to processes (a central critique of the MDGs). Goals, in the past and in the present, aim at achieving national averages. By design, this leaves half of those affected below the average. To be consistent with the UN-sanctioned Human Rights Framework, setting goals will only make sense if these are applied at the sub-national level, i.e., district or municipality since only this allows focusing national efforts on those territorial units so far most neglected and discriminated. With this being accepted, the concept of maximum impact will have to be redefined in the new framework. 


2. How has the world changed since the MDGs were drafted? Which global trends and uncertainties will influence the international development agenda over the next 10-30 years?


The world has changed plenty; but how much due to or despite the MDGs? Let us keep in  mind that the selection of MDGs was arbitrary and top-down with many of us having complained about issues left out and about the lack of consultations when they were set. The global  trends that will influence development are, for sure, peace, the progressive realization of human rights, and our success in making democracy more a local direct democracy (as opposed to the flawed representative democracy we, at best, have now). But keep in mind that the global trends will be made up of myriad local and regional trends --certainly not forgetting those due to both economic and climate-related migration-- which the new framework will have to influence in a positive direction. The human rights framework is the most effective tool we have to achieve this. In the next development phase, let the human rights perspective, then, guide the deployment of human, financial and other resources. 


3. Which issues do poor and vulnerable people themselves prioritize?


First of all, ‘vulnerable people’ I think is a euphemism. [It is the same as speaking of ‘people at risk’; we tend to think that people take risks but, beware, risks are also imposed!]. To avoid any sort of victimization, we must talk of marginalized people. Vulnerable has a connotation of ‘poor them…’; marginalized tells us our social arrangements have put them in that situation. Now to the question of which issues claim holders prioritize: The question has not been answered! Why? Mainly because we have not systematically asked them. Let us do that…and then heed their advice!  I have great hope that this time we put this question at the very center of what we do in the massive consultation that has now been launched. Should I be optimistic? For people to influence priorities, development work cannot only continue focusing on service delivery, on capacity building and on (depoliticized) advocacy; what is needed is a focus on empowerment and social mobilization (the latter also called practical politics). It is not easy to say what is really empowering in community development work. Any attempted operational definition will (always) carry a certain bias depending on the conceptual glasses one is wearing. What is clear is that --in a mostly zero-sum game-- the empowerment of some, most of the time, entails the disempowerment of others --usually the current holders of power. Empowerment is not an outcome of a single event; it is a continuous process that enables people to understand, upgrade and use their capacity to better control and gain power over their own lives. It provides people with choices and the ability to choose, as well as to gain more control over resources they need to improve their condition. It expands the 'political space' within which iterative Assessment-Analysis-Action processes operate in any community. That is what we need to pursue.


4. What does a business-as-usual scenario look like?


The business as usual scenario paints quite a grim picture, I’d say. Take, for example, the poverty alleviation discourse in the MDGs: it displaced the poverty debate worldwide: from a political discussion about its causes to a technical, risk management scheme. (N. Dentico)

Bottom line, I am not sure MDG achievements will all be sustainable. We have raced for the outcomes neglecting the participatory processes to get there, and what we see does not bode well.


An equally important question is: What does a business-as-usual mode foretell?  As another example, take the following: if current trends continue, by 2015, 3.7 million more children in Africa will suffer from malnutrition than are today. My crystal ball tells me we will see more fundamentalism more ‘…springs’, growing frustration, more (understandable) explosive conflicts; perhaps some empowerment in the process, but empowerment in an unpredictable direction; some good, I’d expect. What this tells us is the urgency for the post-2015 agenda to address the real deep structural causes of widespread disempowerment of those that live in poverty/happen to be poor.


Perhaps the most crucial element missing in the MDGs was a conceptual framework of the causes of underdevelopment (or maldevelopment). In the 1990s, UNICEF pioneered the now widely accepted conceptual framework of the causes of malnutrition identifying its immediate, underlying and basic or structural causes importantly showing that addressing each level of causality is necessary but not sufficient. This omission of the MDGs cannot be repeated by the new framework we are all trying to come up with. An adaptation of the already well accepted UNICEF framework is perhaps the best way to address this omission. Are we up to the challenge?