Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Dear all,

We are thrilled with the engagement we have seen over the last few weeks. Over 70 contributions from all regions and stakeholder groups and, according to the FSN Forum, more than 10,000 visits from almost every country in the world—all in less than one month. We’re also starting to hear how you expect to contribute to the Decade; examples included the International International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) offer to help evaluate the effectiveness of nutrition programmes and the commitment from the Grocery Manufacturers Association to limit marketing to children in schools.

Khairul Zarina Mohd Yusop from Malaysia emphasized the rise of non-communicable diseases in her country, mostly due to unhealthy diets. The National Plan of Action for Nutrition for Malaysia has incorporated a whole-society and whole-government approach to tackle the problem. Clement Goldson from Jamaica raised the idea that unsafe food should be regulated in the same way as cigarettes are, and stressed the need for better labelling and awareness raising.

We all agree on the universality of the problem and, broadly, on solutions. Examples shared in the discussion show that, despite the progress in reducing malnutrition—specifically undernutrition— progress has been too modest and uneven across regions, populations groups and gender. Meanwhile, the number of overweight people has increased enormously in virtually all countries worldwide demonstrating that the several forms of malnutrition are still on the rise.

Several of you noted the role our food systems play in providing sustainable, healthy, diverse diets and suggested that increased production is key. You’ve specified that this increase would need to focus on quality production to be able to address micro-nutrient deficiencies and would be geared towards lowering the consumption of ultra-processed foods. The global food system—in other words, the types of foods produced and how they are processed, traded, retailed and marketed—is failing to provide adequate, safe, diversified and nutrient-rich food for all in a sustainable way. Fixing food systems, so that they are sustainable and promote healthy diets will be vital to improving nutrition.

Food is only one part of the equation to ensure better nutritional outcomes for all, as it also includes care and universal health systems.  Lal Manavado from Norway noted that the success of food production hinges on a local context (e.g. social, trade, transport, politics, education, communication) that is able to support and absorb the supply of wholesome food produced. Rosaline Ntula from Ethiopia echoed this point, highlighting the need to address nutrition in every component of the food system, from production, marketing, purchasing power, consumption and uptake.

We have heard that different forms of malnutrition can be found in the same country, the same community, the same household and even the same person. With less than a week left for this discussion, I’m looking forward to hearing more excellent examples of your plans to contribute to the success of the Decade.