FAO and GAIN appeal to private sector in nutrition-boosting partnership

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

GAIN Executive Director Lawrence Haddad and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva signing the new agreement. ©FAO/Guilo Napolitano
GAIN Executive Director Lawrence Haddad and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva signing the new agreement. ©FAO/Guilo Napolitano
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) have detailed a new partnership that aims to increase developing countries’ access to nutritious food.

Inked last week, the agreement focuses on agricultural and food systems, particularly on new strategies that involve small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and how best to promote market-based solutions.

“We must focus more attention on the promotion of healthy diets, especially now with the epidemics of obesity and overweight. We know the main causes of hunger and how to defeat it,"​ said FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva.

"The private sector has a key role to play here - without them, we cannot move ahead with this agenda."

Da Silva’s comments come as the United Nations General Assembly met in January​ this year with the specific intention of improving global health through better nutrition.

Here the meeting’s delegates recalled a number of resolutions, in particular one entitled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

The resolution adopted in September 2015, details a set of universal and transformative Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets to be met by 2030.

In the meeting’s agenda, the General Assembly also noted the importance of health across all the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, as well as the need for a holistic approach.

In this context, the role of food security, improved nutrition and healthy diets and lifestyles in achieving the SDGs was paramount with a view to leaving no one behind, reaching the furthest behind first.

Urban initiatives  

As well as these SDGs in mind, the agreement also looks to address urban-based food issues via GAIN's Urban Governance for Nutrition Program and FAO's Urban Food Agenda.

Currently, over half of the world's population live in urban areas with this figure expected to rise to 70% by 2050.

This creates a challenge to food production and supply with food and nutrition security of poor urban populations remaining at risk because of the food price volatility, natural disasters and climate change.

Commenting on the challenge ahead Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of GAIN said, "Healthier diets are critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and this requires action to enable food systems to deliver more affordable nutritious foods to all.”

"FAO is a leader in this effort, and we are delighted to cement our partnership today. We will focus on practical ways we can jointly help businesses and city governments deliver nutritious diets."

Policy promotion

The private sector has become an area of focus for GAIN, as its Marketplace for Nutritious Foods programme details.

The initiative works as both as a Community of Practice and innovation accelerator, making available a network of local entrepreneurs, investors and institutions which work on agriculture and nutrition.

The ultimate aim is to offer participants opportunities to garner support for ideas that boost access, affordability and diversity of nutritious foods for vulnerable populations.

The partnership between FAO and GAIN also looks to promote policies at country level increasing private sector engagement in improving food systems by supporting SMEs in bringing foods that are more nutritious to market.

By building resilient food systems for the future by integrating rural and urban areas, it is hoped that both smallholder farmers and the urban poor will benefit.

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