On 17 August 12 civil society organisations working across the breadth of nutrition programming, policy and research, including Islamic Relief, sent a letter to European Commissioners Kristalina Georgieva (European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response) and Andris Piebalgs (European Commissioner for Development). The letter urges the Commissioners to ensure that the EU’s work on nutrition remains on the agenda and goes beyond words.
When launching the new Strategic Framework of Cooperation to address food insecurity and malnutrition with FAO, WFP and IFAD on June 11, the Commissioners had highlighted that, ‘[f]ighting hunger and food insecurity remains at the top of EU priorities’ and that this ‘will be reflected in the upcoming proposals on the future EU development policy.’ Undernutrition must be at the core of the Commission’s and Member States’ immediate agenda for this statement to be truly meaningful.
Whilst the recent Communications on food security and humanitarian food assistance are critical in stepping up the EU’s actions on hunger and undernutrition, they remain insufficient to tackle the complexities of undernutrition and the comprehensive approach it requires. A comprehensive Communication on Nutrition would thus provide a much needed and long overdue overarching policy dedicated to ensuring adequate maternal and child nutrition in both emergency and development contexts. In addition, such a communication would provide coherence and ensure that nutrition is an EU priority, and not solely that of a handful of Member States.
There are currently an estimated 195 million stunted children and 55 million acutely malnourished across the world. Natural and manmade crises which are becoming ever more frequent, are combining to exacerbate the problem. They impact on families’ ability to feed their children, on the effectiveness of donors’ efforts towards nutrition and are also exasperating countries’ needs. As civil society we thus stated that the European Commission must increase its leadership and actions to effectively support the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement (SUN) including through the development of a nutrition policy.
Time is running out to meet Millennium Development Goal 1, which is one of the furthest off-track. Global resolve to address undernutrition has never been greater. The European Commission should thus not follow but be one of the key political leaders that rewrite the future of nutrition. The 1st anniversary of the SUN movement will be marked at a side meeting to the UN General Assembly meeting in September (which has on its agenda a point on the theme of addressing desertification, land degradation and drought in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication). As civil society we are urging the European Commission to use this opportunity to solidify its endorsement of SUN by announcing the adoption of a Communication on Nutrition in 2012.