Improving nutrition is a collective business

by UN Food and Agriculture Organisation | UN Food and Agriculture Organisation Wednesday, 19 November 2014 02:00 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

19 October 2014, Rome – Governments need to lead the way against hunger and malnutrition, but this effort must be collective and involve parliamentarians, civil society and the private sector, according to FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva.

Speaking at a private sector pre-event on the eve of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), Graziano da Silva stressed “the common responsibility to ensure food security and adequate nutrition for all.”

“This requires the implementation of coherent policies and better coordinated actions across sectors, “And it must be done in dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders including representatives of the private sector,” he said.

A 60-point Framework for Action for better nutrition drawn up by over 170 national governments was endorsed during ICN2 and charts out a path for renewed global efforts on the nutrition front.

Graziano da Silva called on the private sector to embed the actions recommended by the Framework into their business policies and procedures and to assist governments in implementing those recommendations.

“All of us are responsible for transforming the ICN2 outcome documents into improved nutrition results,” he said.

Among the concrete ways the private sector can contribute are increasing responsible and sustainable investment in nutrition and reducing food loss and waste, he noted.

Private sector participation will also be essential in graduallying reducing saturated fats, sugars, salt and trans-fats in food and drinks, according to the FAO Director General.

“If we are to address undernutrition, overweight and obesity, it isn’t just about seeing the private sector as the problem, we ought to look at the private sector for some of the solutions and be doing that in partnership,” said Marc Van Ameringen, speaking on behalf of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) business network.

“ICN2 is a historic opportunity to press the reset button on the food system,” he said, stressing that “non-state actors have a fundamental role to play in designing that future food system.”

Rocco Renaldo of the International Food and Beverage Alliance underlined the central role that nutrition plays in increasing global development and well-being, and the need for the private sector to put its resources into the fight to tackle existing nutrition problems.

“Business both has an incentive and a responsibility to be part of this global effort,” he said, highlighting current initiatives to expand private sector commitments to responsive marketing and food labelling, as well as research and innovation.

“Recommendation 58 encourages governments to establish their own nutrition targets,” Graziano da Silva concluded, referring to the ICN2 Framework. “I would like to encourage you to do the same: establish your nutrition targets. Make concrete commitments to reach the goals that have been set.”

“It is our business.”