14 May 2014

Nutrition and the SDGs: OWG or OMG?

This time last year I was feeling pretty good about the position of nutrition within the next set of development goals.  

The High Level Panel's Report had got it right on nutrition--bracketed with food security, but recognising that food security and nutrition were equal partners (see below). 

5. Ensure Food Security and Good Nutrition

5a. End hunger and protect the right of everyone to have access to sufficient, safe, affordable, and nutritious food
5b. Reduce stunting by x%, wasting by y%, and anemia by z% for all children under five 
5c. Increase agricultural productivity by x%, with a focus on sustainably increasing smallholder yields and access to irrigation 
5d. Adopt sustainable agricultural, ocean and freshwater fishery practices and rebuild designated fish stocks to sustainable levels
5e. Reduce postharvest loss and food waste by x% 

But does the text emerging from the Open Working Group (OWG) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) make for less reassuring reading? 

In the latest SDG OWG working group Focus Areas document for the May 5-9 Session that just concluded  nutrition has been bracketed with "Sustainable agriculture, food security, and nutrition". 

This is what Focus Area 2 looks like.

Focus area 2. Sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition

End hunger and improve nutrition for all through sustainable agriculture and improved food systems

a) all people have access to adequate (safe, affordable, diverse and nutritious) food all year round
b) end malnutrition in all its forms, notably stunting and wasting in children under five years of age
c) by 2030 ensure sustainable food production systems with high yields, and reduce intensity of use of water by at least x%, chemicals by at least y%, and energy by at least z%
d) by 2030 achieve access to adequate inputs, knowledge, productive resources, financial services and markets for small farmers and fishers, with a particular focus on women and indigenous peoples
e) reduce the global rate of loss and waste along the food supply chain by 50 percent by 2030
f)  all countries have in place sustainable land-use policies by 2020, and all drought-prone countries develop and implement drought preparedness policies by 2020
g) achieve climate-smart agriculture that is resilient and adaptable to extreme weather including drought, climate change and natural disasters
h) achieve by 2030 protection of agricultural biodiversity, including through use of the practices and local knowledge related to agro-biodiversity and diversity of food

On the face of it the first 2 lines in each document are similar.  What gives cause for some concern is the imbalance that follows in terms of another 6 priorities. 

In addition, it seems to be somewhat business as usual with regards to agriculture and nutrition.  There is, for example, no language about the need to make the food system more nutrition sensitive and supportive.  

I may be worrying about nothing, but if you are also somewhat concerned, make some noise and engage with the OWG process. The Beyond2015 website is a good place to start.  

1 comment:

UNSCN Secretariat said...

Dear Lawrence,

UNSCN in collaboration with World Bank and Thousand Days hope to make some noise during next week's World Health Assembly in Geneva and hope to encourage Member States to get involved in the OWG discussions. More info on the food and nutrition security and the post-2015 development agenda side-event here: http://www.unscn.org/en/announcements/conferences/?id=1076