28 April 2020, Rome – After an extensive consultative and iterative process over the last two years, the Vision and Strategy for FAO’s Work in Nutrition (FAO’s Nutrition Strategy) was endorsed at the 166th Session of the FAO Council last week. The new strategy establishes FAO’s objectives for nutrition going forward and provides a framework to guide FAO’s action over the next five years.
The new Nutrition Strategy sets out a framework for FAO’s future action, which includes enhancing access to nutritious foods while reducing Food Loss and Waste, assessing the impact of COVID-19 on healthy diets and using the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to boost healthy diets and resilient agri-food systems. It details how FAO aims to support countries in enabling healthy diets and boosting the capacity of all actors along the agri-food system to continue producing and delivering affordable, adequate, safe, diverse and culturally appropriate foods.
“The new Vision and Strategy for FAO’s Work in Nutrition takes us one step forward towards a better future with more healthy diets and better nutrition,” said FAO’s Director-General QU Dongyu. “FAO looks forward to working closely with partners to implement this strategy in support of Members to transform their agri-foods systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no one behind.”
Máximo Torero, FAO’s Chief Economist, added that the update of the Vision and Strategy for FAO’s Work in Nutrition “comes at the right time.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting agri-food systems and good nutrition is more than ever important to support people’s health. With this new strategy, FAO is once again putting people at the center, operating at all levels of agri-food systems to ensure healthy diets for all and address all forms of hunger and malnutrition in these hard times,” he continued.
The new FAO Nutrition Strategy contains an implementation and monitoring framework, providing a mechanism for FAO to hold itself accountable for its actions and for reaching the proposed outcomes. It also aligns with the Organization’s proposed Strategic Framework 2022 – 31 to leverage all areas of FAO’s technical expertise towards achieving the Four Betters: Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment and a Better Life.
The ‘systems approach’ to nutrition
The new Nutrition Strategy brings FAO’s work in line with the nutrition challenges the world is facing. These include the rapid increase in obesity and the reality that many countries, communities and individuals suffer from multiple forms of malnutrition simultaneously. Drawing on this, the Nutrition Strategy takes a ‘systems approach’, which focuses on the link between agriculture, food value chains, food environments, and access to healthy diets. This includes reforming all elements and activities related to food production, supply and consumption oriented towards healthy diets to prevent malnutrition.
The Nutrition Strategy reminds us that the decisions on what we eat are influenced by our food environment and agriculture and food supply chains, and demonstrates how new policies and actions at all parts of the agri-food systems can boost nutrition.
The Nutrition Strategy comes with the recognition that improving our diets for better nutrition will require a common effort and the collaboration of all, starting within the different areas of work of FAO, its Members and partners. It includes a plan to support all FAO units and technical hubs to work together and improve the contribution of their specific work to healthy diets and nutrition for the populations of the countries supported, as well as a set of 15 actions areas describing the nature of the work FAO can implement, and the tools to measure progress made in implementing those actions.