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close this bookEnding Malnutrition by 2020: An Agenda for Change in the Millennium - Final report to the ACC/SCN by the commission on the nutrition challenges of the 21st century (ACC/SCN, 2000, 104 p.)
close this folder1. Recent Progress
View the document1.1 International declarations for action in the 1990s
View the document1.2 Progress in accelerating improvements for nutrition
View the document1.3 The case for investing in nutrition
View the document1.4 Setbacks to progress: nutritional well-being during economic crisis

1.1 International declarations for action in the 1990s

Over the last nine years, major international commitments have been made to reduce malnutrition. Nutrition goals formally adopted include:

The World Summit for Children, 1990. Called for "a reduction in severe and moderate malnutrition among children under 5 to half the 1990 rate by the year 2000". The Sub-Committee on Nutrition (ACC/SCN) conducted a series of country-level reviews, in collaboration with national nutrition institutes, for Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Tanzania, Thailand and Zimbabwe. These aimed to document a wide-ranging base of national experiences in nutrition policies and programmes, looking specifically at why and how actions were undertaken, and evaluating their effect on nutrition. This work showed that through focused action, accelerated progress against childhood undernutrition can be achieved.

The International Conference for Nutrition, 1992. Reaffirmed the goals set out at the World Summit for Children and other earlier goals, set them in a broader context and also called for the "elimination of death from famine". The Conference - co-sponsored by WHO and FAO -was to be followed by countries writing their own National Plans of Action for Nutrition. Some plans of action were prepared, awareness of nutrition problems increased, a wide range of people with responsibility for nutrition action were brought together, and some strong local networks were created. More recently the Asian Development Bank, in collaboration with UNICEF, has provided funding for implementation of National Plans in selected countries in Asia.

The World Food Summit, 1996. This Summit declared "the commitment to achieving food security for alt, and to an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger in all countries, with an immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half its present level no later than 2015". The summit endorsed the 1992 International Conference for Nutrition recommendations and incorporated them into the World Food Summit Plan of Action and the Rome Declaration on World Food Security. Since 1996, several UN agencies have been driving forward the Plan of Action - monitored by the Committee on World Food Security. FAO has developed a number of country-specific programmes working with national governments to implement the summit recommendations. An inter-agency working group has also been set up to take forward a plan for Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Mapping Systems (FIVIMS).

These conferences emphasised the reduction of undernutrition as part of a broader strategy to eradicate poverty. Reducing poverty is an end in itself and a means to achieve other goals. At the World Summit for Social Development in 1995, governments committed themselves to establish national goals for "substantially reducing overall poverty in the shortest possible time, reducing inequalities and eradicating absolute poverty by a target date to be specified by each country in its national context". In 1996, the Development Ministers of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee proposed a global development and assistance partnership to meet a core of priority goals, including "a reduction by half in the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015". Each conference also emphasised the vital role of the UN family itself: goals should serve as a focus for collaboration among the different agencies and organisations involved in mobilising and monitoring implementation.

The 20/20 Initiative enjoins governments in developing countries and donors to devote 20% of their expenditures to basic social services. This initiative was first suggested by the UNDP's Human Development Report in 1992 and formally approved at the World Summit for Social Development in 1995. Many governments and donor agencies are now involved in working towards this goal. Such commitments will help to provide the needed financial support for community-based programmes.