Please find below, consolidated response from Australia concerning the HLPE (Zero draft) Report on Nutrition and Food Systems.
Thank you for the opportunity to review the zero draft of the Nutrition and Food Systems report. It is clear a lot of high quality work has gone into its development. We look forward to assisting as the report develops.
Globally there has been an increasing focus on the malnutrition challenge – both overnutrition and undernutrition. The Indo-Pacific region is grappling with particularly serious and complex nutrition issues. We therefore welcome the HLPE’s focus on this important issue.
Whilst we recognise the report’s specific focus on food systems, we note that nutrition is a complex issue requiring coordinated action across many sectors including health, social protection, education and WASH (water sanitation and hygiene).
We are generally supportive of the report’s contents and provide comments on specific sections of the report below.
Future Research Areas and Data Needs
We welcome the recommendation in subsection 4.1.1 Knowledge gaps and areas for future work, to undertake further research and data collection on the impact of food systems on nutrition. Despite the links between agriculture and nutrition, the global donor community is challenged by the paucity of evidence on the nutritional impact of agricultural and food security interventions.
Food production and distribution is largely a private sector endeavour. It involves private sector players in various roles along the value chain including as input providers, food producers, traders, processors, transporters, wholesalers and retailers. We therefore welcome the report’s focus on the role of the private sector in ensuring positive nutrition outcomes. Given the important role played by the sector in this area, we suggest including the private sector as a key area of focus in subsection 4.2.3 Nutrition governance, institutions and partnerships. Beyond public-private partnerships, the private sector contributes to positive nutrition outcomes in various ways including by providing investment for improved postharvest and irrigation practices and improved food distribution facilities.
Overnutrition in the Pacific Region
We welcome the report’s focus on the causes of overnutrition and obesity in the Pacific region in section 2.2 Overweight and obesity and its causes and consequences. Section 3.1 Changing Diets – what do diets look like currently? analyses the differences in diet between key regions globally but does not consider the Pacific region. Given the challenges of obesity and overnutrition in the region, as outlined in section 2.2, we recommend that data for the Pacific region be included in 3.1.
Also of note is the mention of Australia on pages 20 and 87. Page 20 references the Australian Dietary Guidelines and accurately reflects the guidelines at a high level. On page 87, the Australian Health Star Rating (HSR) system is used as a case study. We are pleased that Australia’s initiatives are being showcased in this publication.
In relation to the HSR reference on page 87, the authors may wish to note that updated figures are now available. The data referenced is correctly sourced from the 2015 Parker and Frith report, however the 2016 Parker and Frith report is now available on the HSR website: http://www.healthstarrating.gov.au/internet/healthstarrating/publishing.nsf/Content/formative-research
Regards and many thanks
Policy Officer – FAO
Agricultural Cooperation, Capability and Standards
Trade and Market Access Division
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources