The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has proclaimed 2015 the start of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, thereby calling attention to the nearly 800 million chronically undernourished people and over two billion with micronutrient deficiencies around the world.
The 193-member General Assembly adopted a consensus resolution weekend in New York, USA, calling on the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to lead the implementation of the Decade.
In a press release welcoming the decision, the FAO called the document “a major step towards mobilising action around reducing hunger and improving nutrition around the world.”
The UN agencies, in addition to working with national governments, will collaborate with the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and involve coordination mechanisms such as the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN) and multi-stakeholder platforms such as the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).
Among other topics to be focused on during the Decade will be assistance to the some 159 million children under the age of five who are stunted, meaning too short for their age, and the approximate 50 million in that age bracket who are wasted, or have a low weight for their height.
Stunting is also an issue in Nigeria, where millions of citizens also go to bed hungry each night, and a country where millions are malnourished because of poverty and acute deprivation.
Meanwhile, around the world, about 1.9 billion people are overweight, of whom 600 million are obese.
“This resolution places nutrition at the heart of sustainable development and recognises improving food security and nutrition are essential to achieving the entire 2030 Agenda,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said.
“Children can’t fully reap the benefits of schooling if they don’t get the nutrients they need; and emerging economies won’t reach their full potential if their workers are chronically tired because their diets are unbalanced. That’s why we welcome the Decade of Action on Nutrition and look forward to helping make it a success,” he added.