Has a Neoliberal Agenda Blocked Progress in Global Nutrition for the last 22 years?

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Having covered Food commons, Sustainability and Food Sovereignty over the last two weeks in class, it is interesting to read in the media that the Second International conference on Nutrition (ICN2) just ended last week. ICN2 was an inclusive inter-governmental meeting on nutrition jointly 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), IFAD, IFPRI, UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank, WFP and the WTO. It was held at FAO Headquarters in Rome, 19-21 November 2014.

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As a high-level ministerial conference, it brought together senior national policymakers from agriculture, health and other relevant ministries and agencies, with leaders of United Nations agencies and other intergovernmental organizations and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, researchers, the private sector and consumers.

The conference:

  • Reviewed progress that had been made towards improving nutrition since 1992;
  • Reflected on the nutrition problems that remained;
  • Reflected on the new challenges and opportunities for improving nutrition being presented by changes in the global economy and in food systems, by advances in science and technology;
  • Identified policy options for improving nutrition.

Several pre-conference events provided a forum for participants to delve deeper into specific nutrition issues. The two main outcome documents–the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action—were therefore endorsed by participating governments at the conference, committing world leaders, on a voluntary basis, to establishing national policies aimed at eradicating malnutrition and transforming food systems to make nutritious diets available to all.

Girl in ZambiaNonetheless, a Statement prepared by approximately 150 Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and addressed to the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) of the International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) had expressed disappointment at the outcomes of negotiations on Nutrition in the lead up to the conference. They felt that, after 22 years, significant progress should have been made in addressing the urgent problem of the more than 200 million children who suffer from acute and chronic malnutrition, the 800 million suffering from undernourishment and the 500 million adults with obesity. They stated that their voices had gone unheard even after being engaged in the preparatory process for INC2. Therefore, they considered the outcomes of this negotiation to be totally inadequate in confronting the root causes of malnutrition and called into question the lack of commitment of the States to make a real step forward in the fight against malnutrition in all its forms.

It is interesting to read that, during the pre-conference meetings, they had repeatedly urged Member States to re-affirm that all food and nutrition related policies must be coherent with the realization of the right to adequate food and nutrition as well as the full realization of women’s rights. They also requested governments to implement policies that were consistent with food being the expression of values, cultures, social relations and people´s self-determination and sovereignty over their land and natural resources. CSOs had also repeatedly stressed that the primary response to the challenge of malnutrition in all its forms must be embedded in local food and agricultural systems based on food sovereignty, small-scale food producers, agro-biodiversity, deep ecological foundations and sustainable use of natural resources, native seeds and traditional knowledge as well as local markets.

I agree with the points raised in their statement. I also love how their final paragraph ends with an anti-neoliberal jibe, ‘At the same time, we urge Member States to develop clear safeguards and rules on conflict of interest to prevent undue influence of private corporations in all global policy-making processes related to food and nutrition, including the CFS.’ The CFS here being the Committee on World Food Security.

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Alas, do not despair, my fellow upcoming international development practitioners! We too have a chance to add our voices to the discourse by joining the Live chat: how can we maintain food security in an uncertain world? on the Guardian’s Global Development Professionals Network! As our world faces rising social and environmental challenges, how can leaders improve food security and nutrition? Join theguardian debate on 27 November 2014, 1-3pm GMT!

Today!

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2 Responses to “Has a Neoliberal Agenda Blocked Progress in Global Nutrition for the last 22 years?”

  1. chibwehenry Says:

    Reblogged this on chibwehenry.

  2. victoriaevbuomwan Says:

    privatew undue influence. all politics, that would not happen in reality. excellent work

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