A man at the vegetable market in Kampala, Uganda

What is the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition?

The United Nations (UN) Decade of Action on Nutrition marks a new ambition and direction in global nutrition action: to eradicate hunger, and malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight or obesity) and reduce the burden of diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in all age groups.

The Nutrition Decade was established under the normative framework of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) held in November 2014 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development endorsed in 2015.

The primary objective of the Nutrition Decade is to increase nutrition investments and implement policies and programmes to improve food security and nutrition within the framework agreed at ICN2.

The Nutrition Decade provides an umbrella for all relevant stakeholders working on food and nutrition-related programmes and initiatives to consolidate and align actions across different sectors and facilitate policy processes across the areas identified in the two ICN2 outcome documents: Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action.

The vision of the Nutrition Decade is of a world where all countries, organizations and others working on nutrition coordinate action and strengthen collaboration so that all people at all times and at all stages of life have access to affordable, diversified, safe and healthy diets.

The Nutrition Decade belongs to everyone and aims to involve all countries, regardless of their income, nature of their malnutrition challenges and characteristics of their food and health systems.

The Nutrition Decade works for a 10-year period within existing structures and available resources.

Why do we need a UN Decade for Action on Nutrition now?

Ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition is among the most urgent and pervasive development challenges. Most countries are burdened by more than one form of malnutrition or diet-related NCDs and conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, types of cancer and obesity. The various forms of malnutrition may co-exist within the same country, community, household or person.

Many families cannot afford enough diverse and nutritious foods, like fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, meat and milk, while foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and/or salt are often cheap and readily available.

Governments are currently off-track to meet global nutrition and NCD targets. Prioritized and accelerated action driven by the Nutrition Decade will support governments to meet their many nutrition-related commitments within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as targets endorsed by Ministries of Health at the World Health Assembly to promote nutrition and prevent diet-related NCDs.

The Nutrition Decade provides a focused period to set and achieve impact at country level, with an accessible, transparent and global framework for tracking progress and ensuring mutual accountability for the commitments made.

How will the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition make a difference?

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, world leaders committed to rid the world of the twin scourges of poverty and hunger and set out a vision for a fairer, more inclusive, prosperous, peaceful and sustainable world in which no one is left behind. 

SDG 2 in particular, aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture and SDG 3 targets the reduction of premature death from NCDs through, in part, protecting against diet-related risks.

The achievement of the SDGs will only be met when much greater political focus is given towards improving nutrition, as nutrition is both an input and outcome of sustainable development.

Advocating for commitments by all stakeholders, in all sectors, to implement specific interventions, policies, programmes and investments for action on nutrition will be crucial to achieve real and meaningful system change to promote nutrition, end hunger and achieve food security.

The Nutrition Decade aligns on-going efforts of countries and all stakeholders to act across six areas for nutrition action based on the commitments of the ICN2 Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the recommendations included in its Framework for Action:

  • Sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets.
  • Aligned health systems providing universal coverage of essential nutrition actions.
  • Social protection and nutrition education.
  • Trade and investment for improved nutrition.
  • Safe and supportive environments for nutrition at all ages.
  • Strengthened governance and accountability for nutrition. 

The proclamation of the Nutrition Decade mandated the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a Work Programme for the Nutrition Decade in consultation with all stakeholders.

What is the Work Programme for the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition?

The Work Programme for Nutrition Decade describes its aims, added value and guiding principles. It includes its key areas for priority action (action areas); modalities of engagement and roles of Member States and other stakeholders; mechanisms and tools for driving action (means of implementation); and accountability framework.

The Work Programme is a living document developed through an inclusive, continuous and collaborative process, building upon and connecting initiatives of governments and their many partners. 

Mid-term Review of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition

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