The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) wrapped up on Friday, ending an inter-governmental conference aimed at addressing the twin global threats of malnutrition and obesity as governments pledged to align national policies with nutrition objectives.
USCIB attended the conference, organized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization at the FAO headquarters in Rome from November 19 to 21, as part of a private sector delegation of over 90 people from more than 20 countries. USCIB and member companies were on the ground in Rome to make the case for the positive role the private sector plays in nutrition and agriculture.
USCIB, along with the International Agri-Food Network, developed a list of key private sector messages that were delivered during the ICN2 plenary:
Private Sector Key Messages
Nutrition & ICN2 meeting 19-21 November 2014
Addressing Nutrition Globally
- Furthering nutritional goals depends on agricultural production and access, particularly to address the needs of women, children and the most vulnerable.
- Good nutrition promotes broad-based, diverse diets and provides consumer choice.
- Innovation, research, and education are essential to accelerating nutritional improvements.
- The private sector is necessary to increase the scope of financial and human resources in order to tackle nutritional challenges on a large scale.
- Expanding trade raises the standard of living in developing countries and improves the performance of national economies, which are necessary for combating global hunger.
- Empowering women is crucial for improving nutrition, so governments should promote policies that help women become farmers, traders and entrepreneurs.
Private Sector Engagement is Essential
- At ICN2, the private sector delegation included 90 private sector representatives from 24 countries.
- The private sector appreciates the support of member-states in encouraging the participation of non-state actors in ICN2 and encourages future plans to engage them in action plans.
- The private sector is committed to public-private partnerships that support public health strategies.
“The private sector is an important ally in fighting hunger and malnutrition, therefore the FAO is committed to strengthening its partnership with private sector,” said FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva. “There is a need for improved nutrition and coordination across sectors. This needs to be done in dialogue with non-state actors including the private sector.”
On November 18, Helen Medina, USCIB’s senior director for product policy and innovation, chaired a side-meeting with government officials – Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Ambassador Peter McGovern, Canada’s ambassador to Italy; and Lois Brown, Canadian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation.
“The meeting was friendly,” Medina said. “The private sector shared its main messages while government officials reiterated how pleased they were to see a big private sector delegation at ICN2.”
Throughout the conference Medina and other private sector representatives engaged with delegates to promote business’s positive role in the nutrition space. Many governments supported business’s engagement in the dialogue.
During the plenary, discussion was intense over how the agriculture and food systems should address obesity. Speakers stressed the importance of reducing salt, sugar and fat in people’s diets, as well as reducing processed foods. Malnutrition received less attention.
The conference ended with participants agreeing that there is a clear need for a whole of government approach to nutrition. In particular, ICN2 has underscored that it is crucial to have policy coherence the health and agriculture agencies to deliver action on the nutritional challenges of each nation. Thus far, there has been a no coordinated approach on nutrition.
Looking ahead, there will be a push to include more nutritional targets in the UN’s Post-2015 Development Agenda and in the Sustainable Development Goals. USCIB will continue to work with the International Agri-Food Network to ensure that its members can engage with the FAO and relevant UN agencies as the ICN2 recommendations move forward.
Staff contacts: Helen Medina