Healthy diets: helping to release the brake on progress towards the SDGs
On the eve of the high level event jointly hosted with the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) in Dhaka, the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition launched a new brief Healthy Diets for All: A Key to Meeting the SDGs. This policy brief calls for policymakers, at all levels, to recognise the central role of high-quality, healthy diets in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Director General of Food and Agricultural Organization, and Panel Member José Graziano da Silva, welcomed this brief noting that “The evidence is clear and compelling. Malnutrition in all its forms locks countries into long-term disadvantages, undermining efforts to address poverty and inequality and achieve the SDGs”.
This brief shows that one critically important policy area that connects many of SDGs, is the provision healthy diets for all. Invisible in terms of SDG language and not mentioned among the many targets, healthy diets are a foundation underpinning successful progress toward targets in health, agriculture, inequality, poverty and sustainable consumption.
Amplifying the messages from the Global Nutrition Report 2017, the brief presents 6 evidence-based recommendations, aimed at policymakers in low and middle-income counties, showing how ‘diet quality’ can be the key to help them unlock and accelerate progress on delivering their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
H.E. John Kufuor, Former President of Ghana and Global Panel Co-Chair said that “To advance progress on the SDGs we must prioritise diet quality and nutrition”. He added that “national plans needed clear implementation strategies and committed leadership”.
National plans need to work across the food system. For example, improving dietary diversity by widening agricultural crop diversity also requires action on affordability, food safety, food waste, consumer demand and purchasing power. These actions will also require high-level leadership at regional and national level to “connect and break down traditional sector silos” as recommended by the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda resolution. Putting diet quality at the heart of policy could help break down these silos and facilitate multi-sector action.
The past few years have seen a marked improvement in how policymakers prioritise and fund nutrition, accelerated by the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition and the recent commitments made at the Global Nutrition Summit in Milan. But, a failure to recognise the central role of diet quality in addressing many development challenges, risks missing an opportunity for governments and partners to invest in essential policy actions that will unlock the development potential of individuals, boost economic productivity, and reduce demands on expenditure in health and social protection, helping them release the brake on progress towards their SDGs.