Shaping the future of the SUN Movement
I had the honour of joining President Kikwete of Tanzania, as he hosted members of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement in Dar es Salaam last week, to reflect on how best to accelerate efforts to end malnutrition.
Together, we took stock of the tremendous commitment to ending malnutrition being shown by governments throughout the world, by our United Nations system, by thousands of civil society organisations and by business. We wanted to ensure that these commitments were translating into actions, and these actions into impact.
We were united by our purpose and the scale of the challenge. 3.1 million children die every year because of malnutrition. 17 million children suffer from sever acute malnutrition; holding back development, and stunting potential. This is unacceptable. Yet it is becoming increasingly clear that never before have we had such an opportunity to end malnutrition within a generation. We know what is needed, but we need to reinforce our ambitions with a clear way forward.
We are being driven by the commitments and leadership of the countries within the SUN Movement and Tanzania is a case in point. Data from the National Nutrition Survey, released at the meeting, show that in just four years, stunting among children under five has fallen from 42 per cent to 35 per cent. Progress is being made, with strong political leadership, increased investments, improved alignment and multi stakeholder, multi-sectoral actions. Other countries in the Movement are also making significant strides, but there is no room for complacency – the risks are too great.
The comprehensive evaluation of the SUN Movement
In 2014, the SUN’s Lead Group commissioned an Independent Comprehensive Evaluation of the Movement to ensure effective support to governments working to improve the nutrition of millions of children and their families. The evaluation was completed in January 2015 and circulated throughout the Movement for feedback on its key findings. Government focal points conferred with their partners in the multi- stakeholder platforms and networks consulted their membership. In all, over half of the countries in the SUN Movement provided their views on how the Movement can best support their objectives in the years ahead. An even greater proportion of national civil society alliances provided their feedback, alongside development partners, UN system agencies, business and academia. These comments, in full and in synthesis, can be found here.
The Dar es Salaam meeting was a culmination of this extensive consultation and although participants came from very different countries and constituencies, they came united in their belief that by working together, they could ensure that the Movement grows from strength to strength. They challenged us to better work together, to be bold, to be ambitious, and to be innovative.
The participants in Dar es Salaam called for a continuation of the SUN Movement, with a renewed sense of ambition to achieve results. Whilst appreciating the successes achieved so far, the Movement’s strengths need to be built upon and its weaknesses, identified by the evaluation, addressed.
In particular they recommended that the SUN Movement should remain an inclusive, multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral, decentralised Movement open to all countries committed to achieving nutrition justice for all and ending malnutrition in all its forms. The Movement’s unique character to catalyse, broker, convene, boost and leverage should be strengthened; the transparency of its members actions improved; and the emphasis on gender and women’s empowerment, climate change, and fighting inequity, strengthened. We must focus our attention on improving the quality and scale of our support, and better communicating results. To remain relevant we must act as an accelerant, guided by the ambitions of SUN countries, the post 2015 development agenda, and follow the lead set by Member States at the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2).
Participants at the meeting sought to ensure that the Movement after 2015 prioritise advocacy for better nutrition; increase efforts for achieving reduced levels of stunting driven by impact; strengthen accountability of all stakeholders at all levels; and improve the quality of support provided to countries to strengthen capacities to deliver results.
The SUN Movement Networks will need to be reinforced so that the quality of support to SUN countries is timely and responsive to needs. The ‘Communities of Practice’ – an approach that matches needs with available assistance- should evolve to provide tangible support to countries and share best practices across the breadth of the Movement.
Finally, the consensus emerging from Dar es Salaam was around the central importance of accountability to the children and families we serve. To ensure that we are all held accountable, participants explored stewardship options for the Movement, proposing that the Secretary General appoint a new SUN Movement Coordinator and reaffirm a Lead Group of Champions to provide overall guidance to the Movement. We discussed options for reinvigorated leadership in the Movement to support the Coordinator and to help harness the tremendous energy and dynamism that the SUN Movement is generating, drawn from our richly diverse networks and countries.
Where to from here
On May 5th I proposed these recommendations to the SUN Movement Lead Group and asked for their endorsement of a process to drive the updating of the SUN Movement Strategy and spearhead the future of the Movement. I anticipate an intense period of work in the coming months to deliver a strategic framework in time for September, and a strategy and roadmap by the end of the year. We will continue to consult with SUN countries and our members to ensure that we remain relevant, efficient and effective in our efforts to scale up nutrition.
Follow updates for the Future of the SUN Movement on the SUN Movement Homepage
Learn about Recommendations to the SUN Movement Lead Group
Read about the meeting in Tanzania: Leaders gather in Tanzania to stimulate discussion about strategic options for the SUN Movement Post-2015