UN Network teams up with UNSCN to co-organize a side event at CFS 45, placing a spotlight on country stories

UN Network teams up with UNSCN to co-organize a side event at CFS 45, placing a spotlight on country stories

821 million people are currently undernourished. Nearly 151 million children under five years old are stunted and 50 million are wasted, yet adult obesity levels are rising.  In a time of such critical need, effective nutrition actions are more important than ever.

Developing a national nutrition policy is a great first step, but how exactly does one transform commitments on paper into results? What are the processes that must be leveraged to ensure that nutrition is mainstreamed into sectoral polices and that results are sustained? As part of the 45th session of the Committee on World Food Security’s (CFS) in Rome, the UN Network Secretariat teamed up with the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN) to co-organize a side event on Bringing Policies to Life.

The event brought together diverse insights from representatives of government, the research community and civil society. It portrayed the many ways in which nutrition policies are transformed from policy to action at the country level to ensure long–standing nutrition results. Ms. Cornelia Richter, Vice President of IFAD and UNSCN Chair, framed the discussion by underscoring the magnitude of the double burden of malnutrition, recent disconcerting trends and thus the need for effective action. Moderation support was provided by Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, who seamlessly facilitated interaction between the panellists.

Revised photo from side event

The Ambassador of Egypt, H.E Hisham Badr, highlighted the importance of awareness-raising about nutrition and how Egypt’s new nutrition strategy translates international goals into national actions. He also acknowledged the value of the UN Network multi-stakeholder mapping tool and how it informed the development of the national nutrition strategy. Dr. Djibril Bagayoko, Head of the Nutrition Coordination Cell and SUN Focal Point in Mali, presented the country’s nutrition coordination architecture– both structures at national and sub-national levels, including the establishment and functionality of the Cell. He also recounted how the Nutrition Stakeholder and Action Mapping exercise, using the UN Network’s tool, helped animate a multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral approach to nutrition, as envisaged by the National Nutrition Policy and the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. While the Republic of Pakistan was not present in person, the Government provided a compelling video on their approach to combatting malnutrition, which has mobilized Parliamentarians and other high-ranking members of government and embraced the  importance of the local context, giving considerable autonomy to its provinces.

Dr. Stuart Gillespie, Senior Research Fellow at IFPRI, and Dr. Juan Carlos Morales Gonzáles, Executive Director at FIAN Colombia, shared their expert views. Both spoke to the human dimension from the need to root policy frameworks in human rights and transcend the medicalization of the nutrition to the power of telling stories about how multi-sectoral nutrition governance has driven impact. Participants walked away from the event with a greater understanding of the role of coherence at all levels, building political momentum, strengthening institutions, maintaining peace and security, and supporting a spirit of inspiration for change. Efforts to enhance the enabling environment for nutrition – including the SUN Movement where present – were also recognized as being integral to undertaking effective nutrition action.

Ultimately, these discussions facilitated a space for participants and panellists to learn from each other’s successes and challenges. Through knowledge sharing and multi-stakeholder collaboration, effective solutions to the most pressing problems in nutrition action can be identified and pursued.