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NUTRITION

UN Global Action Programme launched at FAO to address nutrition issues
Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Rome
A United Nations Global Action Programme, launched recently at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), seeks to address the pressing challenges related to food security, nutrition and the impacts of climate change facing the world’s Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The initiative was developed jointly by FAO, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS).

Because of their small size and isolation, SIDS are particularly threatened by natural disasters and the impacts of climate change. Many have limited arable agricultural land and are dependent on small-scale agriculture, ocean resources and high-priced imports.

The Global Action Programme aims to achieve three objectives: (i) the creation of enabling environments for food security and nutrition; (ii) the promotion of sustainable, resilient and nutrition-sensitive food systems, and (iii) the empowerment of people and communities for improved food security and nutrition.

A participatory process
José Graziano da Silva, director general, FAO, stressed that the Global Action Programme was the fruit of wide-ranging consultations in the SIDS regions, where food security and nutrition needs to be addressed together with issues such as climate change, the health of oceans, land degradation, social inclusion education and gender equality.

“The impacts of climate change are particularly worrisome. They affect everything that we plan to do in the SIDS countries,” he added, referring to their vulnerability to rising ocean levels and the increase in extreme weather events, such as tsunamis, storms, floods and droughts.

Regarding the nutrition situation, he said, “The triple burden of malnutrition is a reality among many SIDS countries. This means that undernourishment, micronutrient deficiency and obesity coexist within the same country, the same communities and even the same households.”

For his part, Tommy Remengesau Jr, president, Republic of Palau, pointed to the need to “curb the alarming trends” in the SIDS, such as, in the case of the Pacific region, the high rate of mortality caused by non-communicable diseases, including cancer and heart attacks, to which poor nutrition is a major contributor.

“In my view, the Global Action Programme is an important mechanism to empower our communities and peoples,” Remengesau said, underscoring the need to gradually shift people in the SIDS towards “wholesome nutrition and healthy lifestyles.”

“I call on the international community, development partners, inter-governmental organisations and fellow SIDS to work together to help our communities and our people,” he added.

Peter Thomson, president, UN General Assembly, and Fiji’s permanent representative to the UN, said at the event that the launch of the programme “represented an important step towards implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets as related to the SIDS for addressing poverty, health, water, sanitation, economic development, inequalities, climate change, and of course, the oceans.”

Thomson noted that the Global Action Programme stemmed from the SIDS Accelerated Modalities Of Action (SAMOA) Pathway - the outcome of the Third International Conference on SIDS held in Apia, Samoa, in 2014, where FAO was invited to develop a global framework for action.

Focus on the SIDS
FAO has scaled up its work with the SIDS in recent years, including in areas aimed at improving the management and use of natural resources, promoting integrated rural development, and building resilience to extreme weather events.

Last month during the Ocean Conference in New York, FAO presented a commitment to increase economic benefits to SIDS countries through the Blue Growth Initiative. In particular, this will be done through three specific regional SIDS projects, with funding worth approximately $16 million from FAO’s budget.
 
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