As FAO is a historical partner of IAAS, our members have the opportunity to attend FAO Meetings and Symposia as an IAAS Observer. Mirjam and Eline had the chance to be part of the International Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition in Rome. Read here about their experiences!
In 2014, the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) was organized by FAO and WHO, both specialized agencies of the United Nations. This was the second conference that has ever been held to address global nutritional issues. The intergovernmental meeting brought together all stakeholders to decide on how to tackle malnutrition in all its forms with a global approach. The importance of nutrition has then been recognized by the General Assembly of the United Nations, who decided to start a «Decade of Action on Nutrition» from 2016-2025. Consequently, FAO and WHO are currently working on developing a «Work Programme» for the Decade, which is basically a document that gives the framework of action for all governments, affected NGO’s and other involved stakeholders. In order to develop the work programme, the «International Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition» has been organized as a platform for all involved parties to come together, discuss burning issues, represent their situation and point of view and give feedback on the first draft of the work programme. This kind of event tries to ensure that for the coming decade the right priorities are set and the guidelines of action have the right focus.
A major role in the development of the work programme and also during the decade plays the Civil Society. Civil Society includes all kind of people, ranging from the indigenous people to small scale farmers to NGOs. A group of people called the «Civil Society» has formed during the ICN2 meeting in 2014 and consists today of over 300 NGO’s, including IAAS. This group is loosely organised but tries to follow FAO and WHO on their work that followed the ICN2, in order to give feedback and new inputs on what is important to the people when talking about a «Decade on Nutrition». For example, to the civil society it is essential that the work programme for the decade is based on human rights and has a holistic approach as nutrition is always related to culture, environment and economy.
The first day of the Conference was split into 3 subthemes, one focussing on the supply side, the second on the consumer side and the third on accountability and resilience within food systems. Each topic was addressed by short presentations of people who have experience in this area. The second day began in the 3 subthemes but was then followed by a plenary discussion on the draft of the work programme. All important issues that have been discussed in the past one and a half day were wrapped up to ensure their inclusion in the work programme and the coming Decade of Action.
During the opening ceremony of the symposium, H.M. King Letsie III of Lesotho was nominated FAO Special Ambassador for Nutrition. Another royalty that is Special Ambassador for Nutrition is Queen Letizia of Spain and she attended the second day of the symposium.
The conference was mainly about policies and measures, going from empowering women over taxes and restricting marketing and advertising to children. Beside all the conference meetings also Special Events were held.
There is still a long way to go to reach all the goals for 2025 and at this moment the actual work programme is still quite empty. The goals are set under the motto ‘Go big or go home!’ and now the question on how they are going to handle it has to be resolved to actually get things done as well. We are looking forward to hear more about this and to follow their progress.