Improving Nutrition globally
Feeding the world population in the 21st Century requires more than just an increase in agricultural production. A holistic approach that focuses on food quality is key for achieving an adequate nutrition for all people worldwide.
Food security is generally associated with the fight against hunger and undernourishment (defined as food intake insufficient to meet dietary energy requirements). However, there is more to it than that: Besides the 821 million people who are currently going hungry there are 2 billion people suffering from a deficiency in vitamins and minerals. A further 1.9 billion people are overweight or even obese and that is increasingly the case also in developing countries. All in all, around half of the world population is not adequately nourished.
Thus in improving the global food and nutrition situation we cannot think purely quantitatively anymore. Adequate nutrition is viewed in its social, economic, environmental and health-related context as a multi-layered phenomenon. Beside food security, nutrition needs adequate care, sufficient health services and a healthy environment. People unable to provide for themselves, for example infants, have to rely on the care from their mothers. People who are sick are unable to absorb nutrients in the correct quantities and also are unable to produce food or earn an income for an adequate nutrition.
Therefore in order to ensure people have the possibility for an adequate nutrition we need a holistic approach focusing on a variety of foods.
The food system has to play a crucial role in doing this by
• providing a variety of affordable, nutritious foods (e.g. locally-grown fruit and vegetables),
• focusing on local foods which are culturally acceptable, adapted to local conditions and have a high nutrient density and low calorific value,
• providing income protection that enables people, in particular in developing countries, to afford to feed themselves adequately,
• a sustainable form of agriculture, which avoids negative health, environmental and societal impacts along the whole value chain, and
• considering gender-specific issues and the impacts of projects and programmes on women's health and their caring capacities.
In its work in international institutions and political processes such as the G7, G20 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and particularly in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) supports the formulation of transsectoral policies for a healthy and adequate nutrition. With its Bilateral Trust Fund with FAO BMEL has helped consolidate commitment for nutrition-sensitive food systems.
Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN 2)
The International Conference on Nutrition (ICN 2), which took place in Rome in November 2014, was an important event in this context. The Rome Declaration on Nutrition, signed at this conference, describes the main reasons for hunger and malnutrition and their health, social and economic impact both on those affected and on society and states. It formulates a common vision for overcoming all types of malnutrition and has helped to influence that the topic of food and nutrition is placed high on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Now it second outcome document, the Framework for Action must be implemented to realise the vision of a world without malnutrition.