09 December 2014

Global Nutrition Report in a New York Minute: Launch summary

Groucho Marx once said "Practically everybody in New York has half a mind to write a book, and does." 

 Last night, at UNICEF HQ, we discussed the whole of the Global Nutrition Report.   It was organized by UNICEF, Columbia University and IFPRI.

It was a great line up.  Here are some of my takeaways from their presentations.

Kathy Spahn, CEO of HKI International

* we in the nutrition community have spent decades talking to each other--its good to see us having conversations outside the bubble
* civil society has to become more accountable and one way of doing that is to measure the impacts of your programmes
* 3 big areas for increase the focus on: (a) gender (dynamics), (b) WASH and (c) capacity building

Jeff Sachs (by video), Director of the Earth Institute

* nutrition community must engage with the other big 2 development conferences of 2015: on Development Finance (Addis, July) and Climate (Paris, December).  In general, engage with the wider development community
* nutrition might not be mentioned explicitly much in the SDGs but there are plenty of openings for nutrition indicators to be embedded

Glenn Denning, Director of the US branch of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network

* nutrition needs to break with incrementalism, just like HIV/AIDS did in in 2000
* how can we scale up financing for nutrition? why not think about a SUN Fund?  Donors pooling more funds for lower transactions costs and greater coordination. Can we learn from Global Fund and from GAFS?

Leith Greenslade, UN Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium development Goals.

* The Report firmly establishes nutrition as a post 2015 21st century global issue
* the nutrition community should try to insert nutrition into the Global Financing Facility
* build political power by setting more ambitious targets, demonstrating the power of coordination and integration, engaging with the private sector, financing, paying more attention to gender, especially focusing on the nutrition status of adolescent girls

Silke Pietzsch, Technical Director, Action Against Hunger

* there are many supply barriers to coverage--need to analyse them: lack of knowledge of intervention, distance and time to intervention, previous rejection by service providers, conflict that makes physical access difficult
* coverage is often low not because of supply, but demand.  But governments can increase demand through (a) information outreach, (b) focusing on the last mile -- what is the quality of service received and (c) incentivizing participation (e.g. payment)

Richard Decklebaum, Director, Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia University

* the report is clearly written, now what do we do with it?
* need to grow the "nutrition community"
* need to train nutritionists to be boundary crossers--to reach to other disciplines, but also to other sectors

Madana Arabi, Executive Director, Sackler Institute for Nutrition science at the NY Academy of Sciences

* Welcomed the focus on implementation science in the Report
* the recommendation on the need for more country focused research resonated with her
* there is a big gap between data and knowledge--capacity is the bridge

Followed by a great discussion on , as yet, unanswered questions:

* SUN Fund or Global Finance Facility or no pooled fund?
* Who actually is going to be the advocate for nutrition in the SDG finalization? (no-one apparently)
* How will these new 2030 targets be set (UN organisations are committed to a consultation)
* What should FAO be doing (telling us what a dashboard set of indicators looks like for a healthy and sustainable food system)
* how many countries have set their own WHA targets? (no idea)
* which WHA targets are most in need of greater ambition? (my take: stunting and EBF)

Big thanks to Jessica Fanzo who shaped the meeting and pulled it together!

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