Food Systems and Nutrition

Combatting malnutrition in all its forms – undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity – is one of the greatest global challenges that countries face today. Malnutrition in at least one of its forms affects every country in the world and represents a major impediment to achieving global food security, adequate nutrition and sustainable development. This has put nutrition high on both the political and development agendas especially since the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in 2014 and the declaration of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-2025.

It is key to identify policy changes needed for reshaping food systems to improve nutrition and enable healthy diets, bearing in mind the importance of improving the economic, social and environmental sustainability of food systems.

In 2017 at CFS 44 the Committee decided to embark on a multistakeholder policy convergence process which will lead to the development of Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition to be presented to the Committee for endorsement in October 2020. This is in line with the 2016 CFS Strategy on Nutrition agreed at CFS 43 and the Terms of Reference endorsed at CFS 45 defining the parameters for the policy convergence process.

The CFS Voluntary Guidelines are expected to counter the existing policy fragmentation between the food, agriculture and health sectors while also addressing livelihood and sustainability challenges and to contribute to making food systems nutrition-sensitive and promoting secure access to safe, diverse and high-quality diets for everyone.

The policy convergence process is supported by the scientific evidence provided by the HLPE report on nutrition and food systems which was launched in 2017.

The Voluntary Guidelines will be the result of a truly inclusive consultative process. Five regional consultations will take place between June and October 2019 to get inputs, comments and suggestions on how to best align the guidelines with regional and national priorities and needs. An e-consultation will also take place in 2019 as an additional entry point for interested stakeholders. The workplan of the process provides all the necessary details.

The process will also benefit from the outcomes of the three CFS events on investments for healthy food systems, impact assessment of policies and investing in food systems to prevent stunting which were held in 2017.  A series of regional symposia on nutrition in 2017, co-organized by FAO and WHO , also provided space for CFS to hear more about regional priorities, and will help inform its future work.