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This week: A global event on Accelerating the End of Hunger and Malnutrition

This week
28–30 Nov 2018
in Bangkok

A senior delegation from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is supporting and engaging in this week’s global conference on Accelerating the End of Hunger and Malnutrition. Follow the discussions on Twitter with the #AcceleratingZeroHunger hashtag.

From the conference website:
Hunger and the multiple burdens of malnutrition cause human suffering and hold back economic potential. Achieving food and nutrition security is fundamental to reaching all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, in recent years, progress towards eradicating hunger has slowed and even reversed globally. To end hunger and malnutrition by 2030, the world urgently needs to correct its course and pick up the pace.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have joined forces to accelerate progress on eliminating hunger and all forms of malnutrition before 2030 and pave the way for achieving the SDGs. This event will explore how acceleration can best be achieved and what lessons can be drawn from past successes and failures. We will discuss new evidence, data and successful program and country cases on how food systems can deliver healthy and sustainable diets for a growing population while leaving no one behind. We will go in-depth on cutting-edge ways to accelerate progress in urban areas and among conflict-afflicted peoples. We will examine novel approaches to enhance returns on investment in nutrition, collect and share data to track progress, and strengthen public-private partnerships.

The number of people in the world affected by undernourishment, or chronic food deprivation, has increased from an estimated 804 million in 2016 to nearly 821 million in 2017, thus returning to levels from a decade ago, while overweight, obesity, and noncommunicable diseases are growing at alarming rates. Reversing these trends is critical, made more important by the close links between food security and nutrition and many other SDGs. A significant push to fast-track efforts at all levels is needed for the world to achieve the SDG target of hunger eradication by 2030.

The program of this global event
is anchored around the twin themes of
accelerators and acceleration
to end hunger and malnutrition.

Although there are roadblocks to progress, experiences and ongoing innovations point to an array of proven and potential accelerators whose context, scale, and depth can be augmented to reverse the decline and speed up the rate of progress.

In our inauguration, we will take a stark look at the latest global trends in the magnitude of hunger and malnutrition. Country leaders will highlight the potential challenges and opportunities for acceleration. Policymakers and country-level experts will appraise the varying levels of progress made in reducing malnutrition across countries and draw lessons from country experiences (High-Level Panel I) that have accelerated (or hampered) progress. Ending hunger also requires smart policies translated into on-the-ground impact. Participants with a variety of experiences from policy, research, and civil society will focus on moving from policy to impact by facing challenges and defining needs (High-Level Panel II) to ensure sustainable reductions in hunger and malnutrition. Identifying the key accelerators that have enabled countries and communities to rapidly reduce hunger provides valuable lessons for other campaigns. [ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith is a member of the High-Level Panel II.]

An overview of accelerators in food systems (Plenary Session 1) will be followed by sharing of country experiences, including policy, fiscal, and legal frameworks that create enabling environments and foster inclusive coordination. Key questions around the context of progress, customization, and flexibility, as well as how different policies and actions can work together to enhance impact, will be discussed. Multisectoral coordination (including agriculture, forestry and fisheries, trade, health, finance, and education among many others) and multistakeholder collaboration, involving consumers, civil society, and the private sector, will be essential. The need for context-specific customization and flexibility in the accelerator concept will be deliberated.

To achieve food security and nutrition, efforts to accelerate progress must be inclusive, environmentally sustainable, and based on multisectoral partnerships. Poverty and malnutrition are intrinsically linked and, without action on poverty, the poor and most vulnerable risk being overlooked. Innovations for inclusive acceleration to leave no one behind (Parallel Session A), such as supporting local collective action to empower vulnerable communities, will be discussed. Women form a major part of the labor force but challenges to their inclusion in decision-making processes and access to important rights such as land tenure persist. Understanding of the roles of gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the policy and institutional environments, will be crucial for reducing poverty and inequalities.

Producing sufficient calories while ignoring environmental trade-offs is no longer acceptable—the world must deliver sustainable and healthy diets in a time of climate change (Parallel Session B). Reconciling the competing demands of food systems in the face of growing economies, international trade, globalization, and urbanization will not be simple. Researchers and practitioners will explore the complicated nexus between consumption, sustainable production, and ensuring environmental benefits that promote good health and well-being. Which type of diet is good for both human and environmental health? Recommendations can be double-edged and will need to be optimized based on science and evidence, especially in countries that are already struggling with multiple burdens of malnutrition. [ILRI Deputy Director General for Integrated Research Iain Wright is one of the panelists.]

In the context of ending hunger and malnutrition,
an accelerator is a policy, intervention or innovation
or combination of these—that bypasses,
or eliminates barriers to advance
the end of hunger and malnutrition,
amplifying impact through synergies, integration,
and partnerships between and among sectors.

Public-private partnerships (Parallel Session C) offer a number of potential benefits for addressing food insecurity and malnutrition, deriving from the combination of the operational and economic efficiency typical of the private sector with the public sector’s role as the creator of an enabling environment and socioeconomic regulator. Leaders in the public and private sectors and civil society will evaluate what is required for successful collaboration—particularly accelerators in the enabling environment, including policies, legislation, and regulations. At the same time, food, agriculture, and other linked sectors present innovators with limitless opportunities to catalyze change. Experts and researchers will present promising new technologies, start-ups, and policies (Plenary Session 2) and discuss how we can create environments and partnerships that foster innovation. [ILRI Board Chair Lindsay Falvey chairs this plenary session.]

Accelerating progress will require addressing major emerging challenges to food security and nutrition. Recent decades have seen shifts in dietary patterns worldwide that have created easy access to abundant, cheap, and nutrient-poor foods and beverages. Solutions to leverage the food system to tackle obesity and overweight (Plenary Session 3) lie in both top-down and bottom-up approaches. Leaders in nutrition and health will highlight novel approaches to reducing the rapid rise in overnutrition, including leveraging agricultural policy and collaborating with the private sector and investment communities. Accelerators in this sector will have to perform both double- and triple-duty actions as nutrition imbalances will have to be corrected now and for the future.

The world is rapidly urbanizing, especially in Asia and Africa, and its growing cities face multiple malnutrition burdens. We cannot end hunger and malnutrition without nourishing cities to speed progress (Plenary Session 4). Well-planned cities and towns will not only alleviate issues of food insecurity and malnutrition in urban areas but will also become drivers of sustainable rural transformation. Recent work on fostering nutrition-sensitive food systems in urban territories, leveraging good governance, improving the urban food environment, and exchanging knowledge between cities will be shared. This session will look forward on fostering nutrition-sensitive food systems in urban territories, leveraging good governance, and exploring ways to improve the urban food environment by means such as reducing food waste and loss.

Persistent conflicts worldwide are also threatening progress in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. Researchers and representatives from the humanitarian sector will focus on preparedness and strategic investments for strengthening resilience to accelerate progress (Parallel Session D) in crisis contexts. Promising approaches include more proactive preventive and anticipatory risk-management, as well as integrating agriculture-food-nutrition, emergency relief, recovery, and peace building and risk-sensitive development interventions. These will be key elements for not leaving anyone, especially women and vulnerable communities, behind in times of conflict and calamity.

Accelerating progress requires a strong commitment to data and evidence, good governance, and effective investment. First, tracking progress with new tools and data (Parallel Session E) is a vital component of accelerating the end of hunger and malnutrition and achieving the SDGs. Quality micro-level data is urgently needed to study the patterns of association between various determinants of malnutrition. This evidence, combined with assessments that focus on macro phenomena—such as extreme poverty, food supplies, and undernourishment—can inform nutrition-driven strategies, policies, and programs.

Second, effective and efficient policy development and service provision depend on good governance from the local to the global level (Parallel Session F). Given the many and diverse actors in the food system, responsibility for food security and nutrition must be shared across all levels. For this, well-designed governance mechanisms that can facilitate coordination across policy, program, and implementation levels are needed. A compartmentalized approach will not be effective—good governance requires that all levels work together in improving access to healthy foods and creating enabling environments for progress.

Third, we need to boost the impact of our spending for nutrition. Despite the high economic and health costs of malnutrition, governments spend more on sectors that impact nutrition outcomes indirectly—like social protection, education, climate change, and water and sanitation—than they do on nutrition-specific interventions. We must develop priorities and strategies for investments that can deliver more positive nutrition outcomes and enhance the return on investment (Plenary Session 5). International leaders in economics and nutrition will discuss the economic benefits of ending hunger and malnutrition, and explore innovative financing mechanisms and investment flows.

Donors, the private sector, governments, and civil society must prod food systems toward delivering positive nutrition outcomes alongside economic growth. Doing so is critical to change the longstanding narrative of a nutrition transition whereby diets become calorie-rich and nutrient-poor as countries become richer. Progress toward ending hunger and malnutrition can be kick-started and amplified by increasing the scale, depth, and adaptation of these accelerators. Force multipliers will need to be identified—they could be technologies, people, or institutions; they could be sector specific or cross-sectoral. Experts and practitioners who have gathered at this conference have enabled the convergence of various disciplines and are contributing to accelerating progress. Their knowledge and expertise will need to be fully engaged to achieve the SDGs.

This conference provides a unique opportunity to examine and highlight what we know about accelerating progress on hunger and malnutrition, the policies and tools that can be put to work, and the governance and financial support that will all be essential for meeting our 2030 goal of ending hunger and malnutrition.

Visit the conference website

Visit the Acceleration Fair
This is a physical and online space for exchanging ideas, novel approaches, and technologies on accelerating the end of hunger and malnutrition.

Browse resources
Browse a collection of key evidence, lessons learned, tools, and more.

Suggest a resource
Do you have an online resource to share on accelerating progress to end hunger and malnutrition? Use the form below to submit the link to our team. All relevant resources will be included on the Resources page. There is no deadline for submitting resources. You may submit as many resources as you would like; please submit one form per resource. Resources will be added on a rolling basis.

Take a quiz
Take a quiz and find out whether you’re an expert on the topic.

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