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ICN2: Joining Forces to Tackle Hunger and Malnutrition

Submitted by Lívia Pontes on June 13, 2014

An estimated 842 million people are chronically undernourished, and another half a billion are obese. Oftentimes, both issues are found within the same communities. How do such phenomena happen, and what can we do about it?

To grapple with such complex nutrition challenges, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have teamed up to host the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) from 19-21 of November, 2014 in Rome, Italy. The organizations launched the event yesterday, June 12, providing some insight into why nutrition should be discussed not only within individual families but actually be treated as a public issue.

As these key facts highlight, nutrition is a health, social and economic issue:

  • 842 million people suffer from chronic hunger.
  • 162 million children under the age of five are stunted.
  • 3.4 million people die each year due to overweight and obesity.
  • The cost of malnutrition is of about 3.5 trillion USD per year.

Uneven economic growth and other social transformations are partly responsible for the paradox of high obesity as well as undernutrition rates in the world today, and that has a significant economic impact on the global economy as well.

“Estimates point to a loss of up to 5 percent of global income per year in terms of lost productivity and health expenses. This adds up to roughly 3.5 trillion US dollars, or 500 US dollars per person, a huge amount of money and a high cost to pay,” stressed José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of FAO.

With escalating food prices, low agricultural productivity aggravated by climate change and food waste, nutrition challenges require a global solution. That is why ICN2 will build on the first international conference that took place 22 years ago and other events since, and will in turn feed into the UN’s Zero Hunger Challenge, the post-2015 development agenda and EXPO Milan 2015.

As main outcome, ICN2 should approve a political declaration on nutrition and a framework for action to ensure effective implementation of the commitments made at the meeting. It’s crucial that countries and stakeholders join forces in developing a global consensus on nutrition that will result from ICN2.

Learn more about the conference and follow related news on twitter with the hashtag #ICN2.

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