Parliaments have a critical role in influencing budgetary decisions for nutrition throughout the budget cycle and an increasing number of SUN Countries are recognizing the critical role that parliamentarians play in securing necessary laws, policies, financing and equitable implementation of nutrition actions.
These actions have included letters from parliamentarians to Permanent Secretaries to ensure nutrition is a political priority of the administration and encouraging Ministers of Finance to host consultations on nutrition investments. As of 2017, 36 SUN Countries are leveraging the budgetary, legislative and political powers of parliamentarians – helping to cement nutrition as a national priority. They have expressed a desire to be better connected, supported with evidence-based tools and to share their experiences across the SUN Movement.
In a move to scale up parliamentarian engagement, SUN Movement Lead Group member Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), sent a letter to the Speakers of Parliament of 58 SUN Countries to encourage action against malnutrition. This call to action was further strengthened with a keynote speech delivered by SUN Movement Coordinator, Gerda Verburg, at the 136th IPU General Assembly in Bangladesh in April 2017.
Regional parliamentary conferences on nutrition which UNICEF has organized to date in Vietnam (2014), Namibia (2015) and Burkina Faso (2016), have garnered significant parliamentary recognition of the importance of nutrition and coupled with the parliamentary events on the margins of the World Bank Annual (October 2016) and Spring (March 2017) meetings. In 2015, an online discussion began on the topic of parliamentarian engagement on the ENN forum.
The SUN Movement Secretariat, working UNICEF, IPU, Alive and Thrive and supportive civil society organisations, hopes to catalyze the establishment of a global community of parliamentarians active on nutrition issues. This will allow more timely support to parliamentarians and provide a platform whereby we can learn and share from one another, across countries and regions, virtually and through face-to-face capacity development opportunities.