Developing capacity for strengthening food security and nutrition

Regional Symposium “Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets in Europe and Central Asia”

Budapest, Hungary – FAO and WHO, in collaboration with UNICEF and WFP, jointly organized a Regional Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition in Europe and Central Asia in Budapest, Hungary, on 4 and 5 December 2017.

The event was a regional replication of the 2016 International Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition and convened in the context of ICN2, the 2030 Agenda and the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition.  

The Symposium aimed to provide a platform for multi-sectoral consultation, exchange of knowledge, good practices and lessons learned from the implementation of policies and strategies to improve health and nutrition outcomes in Europe and Central Asia, where malnutrition remains a widespread problem. Overweight and obesity affect more than 55 percent of the adult population, and millions of people are suffering from anaemia and iodine, zinc, Vitamin A and Vitamin D deficiencies.

Addressing these issues requires reshaping current food systems to ensure a sustainable provision of diverse, nutritious and safe food to realize high quality diets for all. During the Symposium, participants discussed the challenges of the multiple forms of malnutrition and identified opportunities to address them with a multi-sectoral approach and in a collaborative and coherent manner. Four specific thematic areas were tackled: nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems, food demand and food environment, improving nutrition of vulnerable groups, and governance, leadership and accountability for nutrition.

The project “Developing Capacity for Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in Selected Countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia”, which seeks to promote cross-sectoral collaboration to improve nutrition outcomes, supported the Symposium by gathering experiences and recommendations through organizing two open online events: the “Call for good practices and lessons learned on food security and nutrition policy implementation in Europe and Central Asia region” and the consultation “Promoting sustainable food systems for healthy diets in Europe and Central Asia: the key role of school food and nutrition programmes”.

In addition, the project supported the participation of 15 country officials from Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the Symposium. Over 260 participants from 41 countries participated in the regional symposium, representing multiple stakeholders: government officials, representatives of civil-society, private sector, research, academia and experts in nutrition, health, agriculture and social protection from the UN specialized agencies FAO, WHO, UNICEF and WFP.