Report on the International Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition, Rome, FAO, 1-2 December 2016.
by SI UN Representative, Liliana Mosca
Responding to the mounting impacts of malnutrition on public health and economic development, estimated to cost $3.5 trillion per year, a shift to healthier diets and food systems was the subject of a two-day high-level symposium held at FAO premises (1-2 December).
Lamenting the fact that one in three people on the planet suffers from some form of malnutrition, either under-nutrition or overweight and obesity, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said that “no country is immune” from the problem whose “human, social, environmental and economic costs are overwhelming”, during his opening remarks at the event co-organized by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Graziano da Silva pledged FAO’s support to help countries “adopt a food systems approach to address all states of the food chain: from production and processing to marketing and consumption.”
“Governments should encourage diversification of agriculture, improved post-harvest management, facilitate market access for poor family farmers and guarantee food-safety”, he added.
The speakers were aware that healthy diets can be achieved only if healthy foods are produced and by adopting healthy and sustainable food systems.
To achieve the goal of the United Nations on Nutrition, stakeholders need to urgently take concrete evidence based actions to situations…. policy, investment and behavior shifts are much needed along the food chain.
The United Nations Decade on Nutrition will run from 2016 to 2025, providing a unique opportunity for stakeholders to strengthen joint efforts towards eradicating hunger and preventing all forms of malnutrition worldwide.
The role of women in the food system remains a critical aspect, and according to many, if there is to be a national policy change equitable opportunities to earn and learn should be compatible with healthy and safe pregnancies and child feeding.
The Decade calls on all Member States to act across six pillars for nutrition action based on the commitments of the Rome Declaration on Nutrition which are:-
- Sustainable 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;
- Enabling food and breastfeeding environments and;
- Review, strengthen and promote nutrition governance and accountability