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UN commit to scaling up nutrition and food sustainability

Regional UN meeting, hosted by FAO, commits to coordinated action on scaling up nutrition and sustainable food systems in Asia and the Pacific

A United Nations regional consultation on nutrition, hosted by FAO, has committed to coordinated efforts on scaling up nutrition across Asia and the Pacific as a follow up to last year’s Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2).

The UN Regional Nutrition Meeting for Asia and the Pacific brings together more than 100 participants from governments, UN specialized agencies such as FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, WHO, civil society organizations, international NGOs and academic institutions.

It is co-organized by the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN) and the global movement Scaling Up Nutrition, also known as the SUN Network.

The meeting aims to strengthen UN joint country support for improved nutrition programming and is the first Asia-Pacific consultation since last year’s Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in Rome, Italy.

“The outcome of the Second International Conference on Nutrition highlighted the importance of coordinated actions among different actors and sectors at international, regional, national and community levels to address the multiple burdens of malnutrition and promote sustainable food systems,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.

“ICN2 recognized the importance of the UN system working together more effectively in order to support national and regional efforts in improving nutrition. This meeting is therefore very timely and serves as a critical forum to drive inter-agency cooperation forward, strengthen coordination and collaboration at international, regional and country levels for improving nutrition,” Konuma said.

Poor nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies continue to be a serious matter across the region, particularly as they affect children.

“In the Asia-Pacific region, despite significant progress over the past two decades, stunting of children remains a serious problem, with the rate of prevalence over 40 percent in several countries,” said Konuma. “Globally, nearly 99 million children below five are underweight, two-thirds of them here in Asia and more than 50 million children below the age of five suffer from wasting – again two thirds them are found here in this region. At the same time obesity rates have increased drastically in some countries. While this affects all age groups in Asia and the Pacific, 18 million children in this region are overweight and that trend is increasing.”

The problem of nutrient and micronutrient deficiency is a global problem. However, for Asia and the Pacific, a region that, as a whole, has met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG-1c) to reduce the proportion of hunger, it underscores the unevenness of advancements in tackling hunger and malnutrition in the region.

“While the Asia-Pacific region as a whole, over the course of 25 years, has managed to reduce the proportion of hunger by half – from 24 percent to 12 percent – we must redouble our collective efforts to tackle hidden hunger of undernutrition and at the same time take that 12 percent figure and reduce it to zero,” Konuma said, adding his encouragement to all countries in the region to take up the Zero Hunger Challenge set out by the UN Secretary-General in 2012.

FAO is working with its member countries and partners to improve nutrition and ensure sustainable food systems in Asia and the Pacific as part of the Organization’s overall goal of eradicating hunger and making the region food-secure for future generations.

ENDS


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