This week, national policymakers, nutrition experts, researchers and leaders from the United Nations, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and the private sector are together in Rome for the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) to propose a policy framework to address today’s major nutrition challenges and identify priorities for enhanced international cooperation on nutrition. It is the first world forum to address global nutrition issues and challenges in the 21st century. Hunger Project Executive Vice President John Coonrod is representing The Hunger Project at the conference.
Malnutrition is one of the world’s most serious but least addressed health problems and a significant contributor to child mortality. Nearly one-third of children in developing countries are either underweight or stunted, and more than 30% of people living in developing countries suffer from micronutrient deficiencies.
ICN2 will address the continual and unacceptably high levels of malnutrition that have severe consequences for individuals, families, societies and nations, with the goal of improving nutrition through national policies and effective international cooperation. The new policy framework is expected to directly influence the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The expected political outcome document of the ICN2 will be the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and an accompanying technical Framework for Action to guide its implementation. The Declaration commits countries to eradicate hunger and prevent all forms of malnutrition worldwide, with an emphasis on ending undernutrition in children. It endeavors to do this by creating enabling environments for effective action, strengthening sustainable food systems, implementing coherent public food policies across sectors and promoting breastfeeding.
The conference will also highlight the newly published Global Nutrition Report, which tracks global progress in improving nutrition. The report underscores the scale of malnutrition and the inadequate resources allocated to combat the expansive problem.
In addition to providing a policy framework around challenges, ICN2 is also intended to showcase the progress made since the first International Conference on Nutrition in 1992. The global economy, food systems and nutrition across populations have changed markedly since 1992: millions of people have been lifted out of poverty and hunger. Still, not everyone has benefited from this development and progress to reduce hunger has been uneven. Indeed, today 805 million people are undernourished. At the same time, 1.5 billion people are estimated to be overweight and over 500 million are obese.
Malnutrition results in enormous human costs, undermines economic prosperity and perpetuates poverty. While there has been significant progress made, policies, priorities and international cooperation are essential and must be moved to the forefront of the global agenda. Creating enabling environments for action and implementing a holistic approach are critical to eradicating hunger by 2030. ICN2 is an historic opportunity for countries throughout the world to demonstrate greater commitment to ending malnutrition in all its forms.
ICN2, which will take place from Nov. 19 – 21 in Rome, is organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), in cooperation with the High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis (HLTF), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), United Nations Economics and Social Council (UNESCO), UNICEF, World Bank, World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).