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Let’s roll up our sleeves and make 2017 a watershed year for nutrition – A new year letter from the SUN Movement Coordinator

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Photo courtesy of the Micronutrient Initiative

Photo credit: Micronutrient Initiative

Dear colleagues,

For many, 2016 was an unforgettable year – for better or for worse. Today, the new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. Let’s help write that story by setting goals and taking stock. A story where the conflict of shifting the focus of food systems from merely providing food, to providing nourishment, is resolved – making our world a prosperous one, where no one is left behind. A story where building effective partnerships and breaking down silos, is the inciting action that makes this world a reality. A story where women and girls are the main characters, at the centre of all action. A story which ends by making malnutrition, in all its forms, history by 2030.

In August 2016, I was honoured to join you on this journey as the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Coordinator, at a time when the SUN Movement’s collective energy and enthusiasm was rising to the challenge of demonstrating results and lasting human impact at scale. In this new year letter, I also wish to reflect on how the global nutrition community has seen a phenomenal year in our joint mission to firmly cement the nutrition agenda as a critical development priority, everywhere.

The outcomes of major events in 2016 paved the way for an ambitious agenda which puts us on track to see, breathe and experience a world where every girl or boy get to realise their right to food and good nutrition. The new SUN Movement Strategy and Roadmap (2016-2020) sets our priorities and ensures that we are playing our vital role in eradicating malnutrition and turbo-charging the Sustainable Development Agenda, for the future we want.

Just over a year ago, the 193 countries that make up the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This Agenda commits governments to ensure comprehensive, integrated and universal transformations, including ending hunger and malnutrition within the next fifteen years. The Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-2025, proclaimed by the General Assembly in April 2016, obligates all Member States and partners to ten years of sustained and coherent nutrition action by increasing investments and implementing policies and programmes to improve food security and nutrition for all. There is no better time than the present to step up this work.

Change is not only possible but happening before our eyes. Last year, we welcomed the countries of Papua New Guinea and Gabon, in addition to the Indian States of Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, into the SUN family. This makes our Movement one that is driven by 58 countries and three Indian States, whereas five years ago, just 19 countries were kick-starting this journey.

In 2015 and 2016, a range of countries all over the world reported a significant reduction in the number of stunted girls and boys, showing that the SUN Movement’s vision, mission and ways of collaboration really work. These countries include Bangladesh, Cameroon, the Congo, El Salvador, the Gambia, Guatemala, Lesotho, Nepal, Nigeria and Swaziland.

A snapshot of teams in SUN Countries who undertook the 2016 joint assessment.

A snapshot of teams in SUN Countries who undertook the 2016 joint assessment.

From April to July of 2016, an impressive 45 SUN Countries – or 79% – brought together their nutrition communities to review their own institutional transformations towards the SUN Movement’s strategic objectives. The result? An exciting set of individual country profiles in the 2016 SUN Movement Annual Progress Report that also looks at progress towards internationally agreed nutrition goals. It showcases progress being made in breaking down silos, engaging multiple sectors and with multiple stakeholders at national and sub-national levels. 21 countries have formally nominated high-level nutrition champions, 39 have created Civil Society Alliances, 23 countries work with more than 300 enterprises, 31 have appointed donor convenors and all 57 countries have established a UN Network.

These dedicated change makers, our colleagues and friends, who make the SUN Networks what they are, have been rallying at the global level to galvanise action in countries over the past year. The SUN Civils Society Network’s Learning Route in Rwanda brought together alliances from 11 countries to share and learn about innovation in support of government efforts. The SUN Donor Network helped unpack finance mechanisms for nutrition in a bid to raise awareness, understanding and access. The SUN Business Network worked towards improving access to and demand for nutritious food by developing guidance for national-level strategies. Most recently, I applauded the collaboration between the UN Network for SUN and the SUN Movement Secretariat which led to the launch of the easy-to-use checklist for quality national nutrition plans, the first of its kind. This checklist will be of paramount value to those of you that are in the process of updating or revising your national nutrition plans and I encourage you to have a look.

In September, former United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed 29 global leaders to spearhead the fight against malnutrition as members of the SUN Movement Lead Group. These change makers – backstopped by the SUN Movement Executive Committee and ethical framework – are helping to galvanise political commitment for nutrition and to promote the ethos and values of our Movement.

For this exciting upcoming chapter of the SUN Movement, we warmly welcome the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres. We count on his commitment and leadership to accelerate the nutrition momentum, as we challenge the status quo and wish for effective relations between decision-makers, everywhere. As, after all, good nutrition is a prerequisite of meeting at least 12 of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, none of which can be achieved by any one government or sector, alone.

Together, we must keep the Movement’s Principles of Engagement close to our hearts and ensure that we preserve its unique country-led character. The Partnerships Playbook, inspired by the Movement’s Principles of Engagement and developed in partnership with Every Woman, Every Child, the Global Partnership for Education, Sanitation and Water for All and the Zero Hunger Challenge, was recently endorsed at the Second High-Level Meeting (HLM2) of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation as an official Global Partnership Initiative. This is a testament to the value of our Principles of Engagement as a blueprint for working together towards common goals.

Throughout all the planning and preparations for this transition year, SUN Countries have continued to move ahead costing plans, scrutinising budgets, recruiting champions, training community workers and establishing local delivery platforms. All of your experiences offer rich learning moments from which other SUN Countries and supporters can benefit. The SUN Movement Secretariat will organise the next SUN Movement Global Gathering in November 2017 so as to allow time for these experiences to solidify and for the treasured lessons and road ahead to emerge.

We can all be, and we should all be, nutrition champions in our own right, and, by leading from where we are, we can make a substantial difference in the lives of many. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and make 2017 a watershed year for nutrition. I am confident we have the right people at the table.

Warmest regards,

 

Gerda Verburg

SUN Movement Coordinator
Assistant United Nations Secretary-General

 

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