The head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today called on lawmakers from around the world to engage in a “collective effort” to build a platform for healthier diets and improve nutrition for their constituents ahead of a critical global nutrition conference set to open Wednesday in Rome, Italy.
Speaking at a meeting organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) which represents lawmakers from over 170 countries, FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva declared nutritional improvements to be a collaborative mission uniting international stakeholders and their counterparts in government.
“Improving nutrition requires a collective effort,” Mr. Graziano da Silva told the gathered delegates. “It requires well-designed laws that improve food systems, ensure healthy diets and strengthen school meals.”
“It also requires adequate public budgets and it calls for strong legal frameworks that consolidate advances and allow us to press ahead,” he continued.
The IPU meeting, also held in Rome, comes just one day before the UN agriculture agency opens the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) aimed at proposing “a flexible policy framework to address today’s major nutrition challenges and identify priorities for enhanced international cooperation on nutrition,” according to the ICN2 website.
The conference will bring together senior national policymakers from agriculture, health and other relevant ministries and agencies, with leaders of UN agencies and other intergovernmental organizations and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, researchers, the private sector and consumers.
More than 90 ministers and hundreds of government officials are expected to attend and review progress made towards improving nutrition since 1992, reflect on nutrition problems that remain, as well as on the new challenges and opportunities for improving nutrition presented by changes in the global economy, in food systems, by advances in science and technology, and identify policy options for improving nutrition.
Yesterday, Mr. Graziano da Silva addressed a gathering of some 200 members of civil society organizations who are also in Rome gearing up for the Conference. “Civil-society organizations are key players in this week's global nutrition conference, as they are tasked with making sure political promises are kept,” he said, adding: “Your role includes giving voices to the hungry, pushing governments and other stakeholders forward and demanding results and accountability.”