12 November 2014

The Teeth Behind ICN2 Commitments & Recommendations: Will They Bite or Merely Chatter?

Do have a read of the ICN2 Outcome Documents: (1) Rome Declaration on Nutrition and (2) Framework for Action.

They are very sensible: a good balance of nutrition status outcomes, programmes, sectors and policies.

These documents were very food focused 6-9 months ago, so FAO and WHO deserve a lot of credit for listening and responding to concerns.

The one section that worries me is the accountability section. Accountability is covered in 3 out of 60 recommendations in the Framework for Action.

Recommendation 58 says that "national governments are encouraged to establish nutrition targets and intermediate milestones, consistent with the timeframe for implementation (2016-2025).... they are invited to include" indicators for nutrition outcomes and policy.  "Encouraged" and "invited":  I understand that this is diplomatic speak, but couldn't  "strongly" or "urged" have featured?

Recommendation 59 says that reports on the implementation of the commitments of the Rome Declaration  on Nutrition will be compiled jointly by FAO and WHO drawing on country self reporting and other mechanisms (and it mentions the Global Nutrition Report).  But will these reports identity commitments, link them to responsible parties, assess delivery and make assessments publicly available?  There is silence on this when there needs to be clarity.

Recommendation 60 is really odd, saying that the governing bodies of FAO and WHO and other relevant organisations are "requested to consider the inclusion of reports on the overall follow up to ICN2 on the agendas of the regular FAO and WHO governing body meetings"  Requested to consider?  How about a commitment from the governing bodies to demand such reports?

Finally, two big omissions from the ICN2 documents:

* there is some complacency on the eventual prominence of nutrition in the SDG framework.  As the Global Nutrition Report notes, nutrition is only mentioned in one of the 169 SDG targets.  4 of the 6 WHA indicators are not in the SDG framework.  This is not good enough.  The best thing to come out of ICN2 would be a realistic plan to get nutrition more prominent within the SDGs.  The SDGs, after all, will be the main accountability mechanism for development over the next 15 years.

* what about an ICN3?  Will we have to wait another 22 years for an ICN? What about an ICN3 in 5 or 10 years?  One that focuses clearly on what has happened in the proposed Decade of Action for Nutrition.

So the ICN documents are good, but do the teeth behind the ICN2 have bite or do they merely chatter?

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