The current global outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has disrupted food systems around the world. Food environments are where people meet the food system. Around the world people’s food environments are rapidly changing in both their external dimensions – food availability, prices, vendors- as well as personal dimensions – geographical access, affordability, convenience and desirability.  These rapid food environment changes are influencing the consumers’ dietary practices and can lead to a deterioration in both individual, and country level,nutritional and health status. 

The people, and their health and nutrition status, are what counts. Healthy, sustainable diets that contain sufficient fruits and vegetables are crucial in protecting people’s immunity. Particularly for those at risk of, or suffering from food insecurity and those with pre-existing non-communicable diseases who are at a heightened risk of becoming severely ill with the virus.

The work of UN agencies and partner organizations to promote nutrition and healthy food systems during the pandemic is continually expanding and strengthening. Contributing to the coronavirus pandemic response, the UNSCN has compiled a list of available resources and key readings with a focus on nutrition and food systems. This list will be continually updated and expanded as more resources become available. 

UN AGENCIES GENERAL RESPONSE

FOOD SYSTEMS

PREGNANCY, BREASTFEEDING, INFANT/YOUNG CHILD FEEDING

  • WFP
    COVID-19 and Pregnancy (18 March)
    COVID-19 and Breastfeeding (18 March)
  • UNICEF & GTAM
    Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) in the context of COVID-19 (27 March with updates every 10 days)

SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN

ADULTS

EMERGENCY NUTRITION RESPONSE

Articles and blog posts providing insights into nutrition and food systems in the response to COVID-19

 

8-13 November, 2020
Bangkok, Thailand

The fifth international meeting of the Micronutrient Forum will focus on research, implementation science and policy development on all aspects of micronutrients. In 2020 the event will also open itself more broadly to the greater participation of colleagues from the food value chain sectors – agriculture, manufacturing, processing and distribution, retail, and culinary – with a deep-dive into positioning micronutrients at the heart of food systems to advance the achievement of optimal health impacts.

Find out more about the event

22-23 March 2020
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Organiser: Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition

The Second Global Summit on Food Fortification is part of a worldwide effort to invigorate interest, awareness and investment in Large-Scale Food Fortification (LSFF) and biofortification – two population-based interventions with enormous potential to contribute sustainably to reducing and preventing micronutrient deficiencies globally.

The Summit aims to build consensus around the most important actions that should be pursued in order for staple food fortification to meet its potential impact to reduce malnutrition worldwide.

Find out more at the GAIN website: www.gainhealth.org/index.php/events/second-global-summit-food-fortification

or contact Sonia Perrier at Summit2020@gainhealth.org.

It is almost five years now since the Nutrition Decade was declared. It is time to reflect back on its achievements so far. FAO and WHO are convening an open and inclusive dialogue with stakeholders for the mid-term review of the Nutrition Decade.

This review follows the ECOSOC Resolution 1989/84 regarding international decades, which provides that an appropriate inter-governmental body should appraise the implementation of a decade’s programme of work at the mid-point and at the end of the decade.

The objectives of the Mid-term Review of the Nutrition Decade are to assess and evaluate the achievements in individual policy areas of the ICN2 Framework for Action, as reflected in the actions areas of the Work Programme of the Decade, over the time period from 2016 to 2020. The Mid-term Review aims to identify focus areas for priority action and promising opportunities in each of the six action areas for future progress from 2021 to 2025. This assessment will guide the revision of the ‘living part’ of the Work Programme of the Nutrition Decade as appropriate.

The process will include a series of consultations and dialogues with member states, civil society organizations, private sector, UN partner agencies and others, as well as an open online consultation. Finally, a global event is envisioned to be organized to underscore the achievements of the first half of the Nutrition Decade and set the stage for the priorities during the second half. More information is provided in the concept note.

The joint FAO/WHO Nutrition Decade Secretariat has developed the Mid-term Review Foresight paper, which will serve as the background paper for the consultation process. Reflecting on the broader development in nutrition globally, this paper develops a vision on actions to be taken in the different areas of the Work Programme of the Nutrition Decade, considering specific advances and opportunities in individual policy areas.

Mid-term review foresight paper

This book critically assesses the role of agrobiodiversity in school gardens and its contribution to diversifying diets, promoting healthy eating habits and improving nutrition among schoolchildren as well as other benefits relating to climate change adaptation, ecoliteracy and greening school spaces.

Many schoolchildren suffer from various forms of malnutrition and it is important to address their nutritional status given the effects it has on their health, cognition, and subsequently their educational achievement. Schools are recognized as excellent platforms for promoting lifelong healthy eating and improving long-term, sustainable nutrition security required for optimum educational outcomes. This book reveals the multiple benefits of school gardens for improving nutrition and education for children and their families. It examines issues such as school feeding, community food production, school gardening, nutritional education and the promotion of agrobiodiversity, and draws on international case studies, from both developed and developing nations, to provide a comprehensive global assessment.

This book will be essential reading for those interested in promoting agrobiodiversity, sustainable nutrition and healthy eating habits in schools and public institutions more generally. It identifies recurring and emerging issues, establishes best practices, identifies key criteria for success and advises on strategies for scaling up and scaling out elements to improve the uptake of school gardens.

USAID Advancing Nutrition, the Agency's flagship multi-sectoral nutrition project, seeks qualified consultants to support work in a wide range of technical areas, including:

  • Food Systems
  • Health Systems
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Nutrition in Humanitarian Contexts
  • Social and Behavior Change
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning
  • Capacity strengthening
  • Knowledge Management
  • Finance & Operations

Consultancies may be short or long term and may include international travel. Interested parties with experience in one or more of the above areas are encouraged to register here. Qualified candidates will be contacted with a detailed scope of work.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) incorporated the WHA targets to reduce the proportion of children suffering from wasting to <5% by 2025 and <3% by 2030.  Yet, since these targets were adopted, the proportion of wasted children has remained largely unchanged. Today, an estimated 7.3% (50 million) of all children under five suffer from wasting at any given time.  In 2019, the Principals of the UN agencies directly involved in the prevention and treatment of child wasting issued a joint statement calling for greater action to address this urgent problem (Joint statement by the Principles of FAO, WHO, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and UN OCHA (https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/joint-statement-principals-fao-who-unhcr-unicef-wfp-and-un-ocha). 

WHO coordinated the development of the Global Action Plan (GAP) framework in close collaboration with FAO, UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP, highlighting priority actions on the prevention and treatment of child wasting. The draft GAP went through a series of consultations including regional workshops in Asia and Africa, and a CSO/donor consultation in New York and a technical consultation in Geneva.  The GAP framework on Child Wasting underwent a public online review process and this final version has been endorsed by FAO, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO.  

This Framework identifies four critical outcomes to achieving the SDG targets on child wasting and to improving early detection and treatment for those who need it. Under each of these outcomes, the Framework identifies pathways to accelerate the delivery of priority actions and to create a more enabling environment for their success.  The GAP framework aims to shift the collective focus towards prevention and scaling up evidence-informed treatment, and towards a more sustainable systems-wide approach.

This Framework will enable UN agencies to develop a more targeted Roadmap for Action, supporting countries where children are most vulnerable and most affected by wasting to develop concrete, context-specific commitments, targets and actions to accelerate progress and contribute to reaching the global SDG targets   Discussions to identify commitments and actions by governments and other key stakeholders will continue throughout 2020, with the aim to release the comprehensive global plan at the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit, to be held in December 2020.

As part of its series of briefs on food systems, the Global Panel’s new brief, Rethinking trade policies to support sustainable food systems and healthy diets, shows that there are clear benefits to aligning trade policies with the goal of providing healthy and sustainable diets for all. The brief aims to help policymakers address the key issues to take into consideration when choosing trade policies. It shows why policymakers who are committed to improving diets and nutrition should pay more attention to the value of trade instruments as part of their portfolio of actions.

The primary focus is on cross-border flows of food and agricultural commodities, exploring the effects that trade can have on the supply and affordability of nutrient-rich foods. It also considers how trends in global trade affect diets, greenhouse gas emissions and the natural environment upon which food systems depend.

The brief provides a series of policy actions and opportunities for leveraging trade to improve diets with the following top-line messages:

  • Close attention should be paid to trade policies that influence the relative price of foods within domestic markets.
  • High priority should be given to trade policies that specifically help to increase the availability and to reduce the price of nutrient-rich foods.
  • Policymakers should be alert to the effects of trade policies on the availability and pricing of imports of ultra-processed foods.
  • Policymakers should pay close attention to trade agreements which embody strong investor protections, as they can be problematic.
  • Food trade can be especially beneficial in managing price volatility and climate change risks.

As part of its series of briefs on food systems, the Global Panel’s new brief, Rethinking trade policies to support sustainable food systems and healthy diets, shows that there are clear benefits to aligning trade policies with the goal of providing healthy and sustainable diets for all. The brief aims to help policymakers address the key issues to take into consideration when choosing trade policies. It shows why policymakers who are committed to improving diets and nutrition should pay more attention to the value of trade instruments as part of their portfolio of actions.

The primary focus is on cross-border flows of food and agricultural commodities, exploring the effects that trade can have on the supply and affordability of nutrient-rich foods. It also considers how trends in global trade affect diets, greenhouse gas emissions and the natural environment upon which food systems depend.

The brief provides a series of policy actions and opportunities for leveraging trade to improve diets with the following top-line messages:

  • Close attention should be paid to trade policies that influence the relative price of foods within domestic markets.
  • High priority should be given to trade policies that specifically help to increase the availability and to reduce the price of nutrient-rich foods.
  • Policymakers should be alert to the effects of trade policies on the availability and pricing of imports of ultra-processed foods.
  • Policymakers should pay close attention to trade agreements which embody strong investor protections, as they can be problematic.
  • Food trade can be especially beneficial in managing price volatility and climate change risks.

Malnutrition, in all its forms, is often driven by the poor quality of diets in early childhood. Globally, 2 in 3 children are not fed the diets they need to support children’s rapid growth and brain development. While most children are still breastfeeding, the complementary foods they are fed often miss nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and foods of animal origin such as eggs, fish, dairy or meat. Furthermore, the consumption of nutrient-poor snack foods and beverages is on the rise in young children.

Good diets for young children are driven by good foods, good practices and good services. This guidance highlights the determinants and drivers of poor diets in young children, describes the most recent evidence on improving complementary foods and feeding, and presents action frameworks to improve young children’s diets using a systems approach, supporting global efforts to improve young children’s diets, in all contexts.