Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

This is a great start to the discussion. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far. I see a number of themes emerging.

One is the fact that policy decisions need to be evidence based. Linked to this is the importance of connecting decision makers with the academic community, empowering local institutions to be agents of change. Examples of academic groups working to make that connection include the Global Nutrition Report and its Independent Expert Group, International Union of Nutritional Sciences and World Public Health Nutritionists Association. The value of disaggregated data and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms were underlined in order to ensure that the nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions are having the desired impact and reach the most marginalized communities and households.

A strong case was made for rights based policies. As Pat Vanderkooy, Dietitian of Canada pointed out, it is our shared public responsibility to protect the environment and human rights “with dignity and equity, not by charity”. We need to raise awareness about the importance of good nutrition through broad-based campaigns with target groups ranging from primary school curriculums to education of the elderly. Civil society actors continue to be the biggest advocates for nutrition but we all have a role to play. The more informed people are, the better equipped they are to organize, mobilize and work with their governments and businesses towards the necessary changes in their food systems and to safeguard their rights.

There have also been some references on the need to build the economic case for investing in nutrition. According to the 2015 Global Nutrition Report, every US $1 spent on high impact nutrition actions such as exclusive breast-feeding yield at least US $16 in return. This support can be catalyzed by foreign assistance but, ultimately, nutrition needs to be a national priority supported by domestic finances to ensure long-term, sovereign growth. Thomas Herlehy, Independent Agricultural Consultant expressed it well when he wrote: “future economic development depends so much on future generations and their ability to lead healthy lives, contributing to the growth of the economy and making intellectual contributions to solve local problems”.

The importance of working together has also been emphasized. The GTSA (Groupe de Travail sur la Sécurité Alimentaire, [Food Security Working Group]) in Cameroon and the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement were mentioned as success stories that demonstrate the benefits of working across sectors and stakeholder groups towards a coordinated response to malnutrition.

Moving forward, I’m very interested to hear more about what you see as the roles and responsibilities of the various actors, both duty bearers and right holders.  How do you think we can accelerate and improve the quality of commitments from the various actors to address all forms of malnutrition and how you see these activities being funded? Comments are of course welcome on all aspects and expectations for UN Decade of Action on Nutrition.

Thank you again for the thoughtful contributions, and I look forward to continuing the conversation.