Dear Friends and Colleagues
New UN Report on Nutrition and Food Systems
In October 2015, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) to prepare a report on Nutrition and Food Systems, to be presented at CFS 44, which starts on 9th October 2017. This topic is highly relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the implementation of the 2014 Rome Declaration on Nutrition, the subsequent Decade of Action for Nutrition, and the fulfilment of the right to adequate food.
The report analyses how food systems influence people’s dietary patterns and nutritional outcomes, taking into account the economic, social and environmental impacts of agriculture and food systems on sustainability; and highlights effective policies and programmes to shape food systems in a sustainable manner that protects the right to adequate food for all.
The report's recommendations are:
1. Strengthen the integration of nutrition within national policies, programmes and budgets
2. Strengthen global cooperation to end hunger and malnutrition
3. Address the impacts of trade and investment agreements on food environments and diets
This includes the need to ensure that multilateral and bilateral trade and investment agreements do not have a negative impact on food environments and diets.
4. Address the nutritional vulnerabilities of particular groups
5. Improve nutritional outcomes by enhancing women’s rights and empowerment
This includes giving women equal access to resources and strengthening rural women’s participation and representation at all levels of policy-making.
6. Recognize and address conflicts of interest (COIs)
Participatory mechanisms should be established in order to address COIs and imbalanced power relationships between stakeholders in policy-making and implementation. Nutrition sciences should be protected against undue influence and corruption, including protecting scientists from retaliation and intimidation.
7. Improve data collection and knowledge-sharing on food systems and nutrition
Participatory systems should be established for the sharing of knowledge and best practices among stakeholders in the food supply chain, while respecting the intellectual and cultural property rights of indigenous peoples.
8. Enhance opportunities to improve diet and nutrition outcomes along food supply chains
This calls for initiatives that contribute to the production of nutritious, locally-adapted foods and contribute to dietary quality and diversity, including by providing incentives to produce nutritious foods and protect local agrobiodiversity; providing incentives for agro-ecological and other types of environmentally-friendly farming practices; promoting nutritious foods and sustainable diets along food supply chains.
9. Improve the quality of food environments
10. Create consumer demand for nutritious food
With best wishes,
NUTRITION AND FOOD SYSTEMS
- A REPORT BY THE HIGH LEVEL PANEL OF EXPERTS ON FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION OF THE COMMITTEE ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY
from the Report: Summary and Recommendations
The following set of recommendations, building upon the main findings of this report, is a contribution to the progressive realization of the right to adequate food and nutrition. Food systems shape people’s diets, their health and nutrition outcomes and their overall well-being. The way food is produced, distributed and consumed also impacts the integrity of the planet and the stability of nations.
1. STRENGTHEN THE INTEGRATION OF NUTRITION WITHIN NATIONAL POLICIES, PROGRAMMES AND BUDGETS
States should, in collaboration with affected stakeholders:
a) Recognize the diversity of food systems (traditional, mixed, modern) and design context-specific policies and programmes that support the co-existence of diverse food systems and diets.
b) Integrate a nutrition-focused food system approach into national development, health and economic plans.
c) Facilitate an inclusive dialogue and develop nutrition strategies at national and local levels, which focus on improving food environments.
d) Foster policy coherence in order to improve diets and nutrition, through enhanced coordination across sectors, including agriculture, environment, energy, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, education, fiscal policies, economic and social development.
e) Increase the allocation for nutrition spending in national budgets and look for the greatest synergies for improved nutritional outcomes within existing spending on agriculture and food systems.
f) Improve food and nutrition literacy throughout society through popular education programmes and other appropriate schemes.
g) Improve capacity by investing in a workforce of nutrition practitioners, and by educating a new generation of food system professionals on nutrition.
2. STRENGTHEN GLOBAL COOPERATION TO END HUNGER AND MALNUTRITION
States and inter-governmental organizations (IGOs) should:
a) Increase the share of official development assistance (ODA) to support more sustainable food systems, to address all forms of malnutrition, and to prevent diet-related non-communicable diseases.
b) Avert devastating, costly famines, by strengthening local food systems and longer-term development support, and by investing in humanitarian aid that supports communities’ capacities and resilience.
3. ADDRESS THE IMPACTS OF TRADE AND INVESTMENT AGREEMENTS ON FOOD ENVIRONMENTS AND DIETS
States and IGOs should:
a) Through the use of ex-ante assessment, ensure that multilateral and bilateral trade and investment agreements do not have a negative impact on food environments and diets.
b) Ensure that multilateral and bilateral trade and investment agreements are consistent with nutrition policies and favour the transition towards more sustainable food systems.
4. ADDRESS THE NUTRITIONAL VULNERABILITIES OF PARTICULAR GROUPS
States and IGOs should:
a) Take specific measures to ensure that vulnerable and marginalized groups (including young children, adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, people who are ill or immuno-compromised, the rural poor and indigenous peoples) are able to access or achieve a sufficient, diverse, nutritious diet that is culturally appropriate.
5. IMPROVE NUTRITIONAL OUTCOMES BY ENHANCING WOMEN’S RIGHTS AND EMPOWERMENT
States and IGOs should:
a) Ensure that laws and policies provide men and women equal access to resources including land, financial and technical resources, water and energy.
b) Recognize and value the importance of unpaid care work for human health and FSN. Facilitate the preparation of nutritious food at the household level, recognizing the time this requires. Promote the redistribution of unpaid care work within the household.
c) Strengthen rural women’s participation and representation at all levels of policy-making for FSN, to ensure their perspectives are taken into account.
d) Create an enabling environment to promote breastfeeding, ensuring that decisions to breastfeed do not result in women losing their economic security or any of their rights.
6. RECOGNIZE AND ADDRESS CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
States, IGOs and other stakeholders should:
a) Identify and acknowledge conflicts of interest (COIs) as well as imbalanced power relationships between stakeholders, and establish participatory mechanisms in order to address them in policy-making and implementation.
b) Ensure transparency and accountability mechanisms, using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) indicators and commitments that are captured through coordinated, open access monitoring systems to prevent and address COIs.
c) Protect nutrition sciences against undue influence and corruption, including protecting scientists from retaliation and intimidation, through appropriate rules, effectively monitored and enforced.
7. IMPROVE DATA COLLECTION AND KNOWLEDGE-SHARING ON FOOD SYSTEMS AND NUTRITION
States, IGOs, the private sector, academic institutions and civil society organizations (CSOs) should:
a) Promote nutrition-focused, policy-relevant research on food systems and food demand, using an interdisciplinary systems approach, to understand the drivers and determinants of food environments and food choices as well as the gaps in evidence on such decisions.
b) Improve the availability (through open access where appropriate) and quality of multi-sectoral information systems that capture diet, food composition and nutrition-related data for improved policy development and accountability, including through the promotion of harmonized methods for data collection.
c) Invest in participatory systems for the sharing of knowledge and best practices among stakeholders in the food supply chain, while respecting the intellectual and cultural property rights of indigenous peoples.
d) Draw on the knowledge, experience and insights of individuals who are not usually regarded as members of the nutrition community – e.g. community leaders, chefs, supermarket buyers, influencers on social media, youth leaders, young entrepreneurs, mayors and local communities.
RECOMMENDATIONS ACROSS FOOD SUPPLY CHAINS, FOOD ENVIRONMENTS AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR
8. ENHANCE OPPORTUNITIES TO IMPROVE DIET AND NUTRITION OUTCOMES ALONG FOOD SUPPLY CHAINS
States, IGOs, the private sector and CSOs should:
a) Support initiatives that contribute to the production of nutritious, locally-adapted foods and contribute to dietary quality and diversity, including by:
b) Protect and enhance nutritional value along food supply chains, including by:
c) Ensure the food supply is healthy for the consumer, including by:
9. IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF FOOD ENVIRONMENTS
a) CFS should consider the opportunity to elaborate voluntary guidelines on improved food environments for healthy diets.
States, IGOs, the private sector and CSOs should:
b) Make nutritious foods more accessible and convenient in public places (schools, hospitals, etc.), as well as in home and school gardens, and rural marketplaces to provide greater dietary diversity and quality.
c) Design and implement policies and regulations that improve the built environment to promote nutritious food, including zoning regulations and tax regimes to minimize food deserts and swamps.
d) Regulate health claims on food packaging and adopt a front labelling system that is easy to interpret.
e) Strengthen national food safety standards and quality assurance and develop better global surveillance systems for real-time information.
f) Phase-out advertising and promotion of unhealthy foods, especially to children and adolescents.
g) Institute policies and practices that implement the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.
10. CREATE CONSUMER DEMAND FOR NUTRITIOUS FOOD
States and IGOs, with the support of the private sector and CSOs should:
a) Develop global and national guidelines for healthy and sustainable diets and determine ways to make guidelines actionable and user-friendly for consumers.
b) Implement economic and social policies that increase demand for nutritious foods and lower demand for nutrient-poor foods, such as establishing evidenced-based tax policies on foods of differing nutritional value.
c) Ensure that social protection programmes such as school feeding and cash transfers lead to improved nutritional outcomes.
d) Promote food cultures, including cooking skills and the importance of food in cultural heritage, as a vehicle to promote nutrition literacy.