December 16, 2015

Guest Commentary – Nutrition Sensitivity Needed to Tackle Hunger in the 21st Century

By Marilyn Shapley, Senior Policy and Advocacy Associate, InterAction

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and InterAction, in collaboration with the House Hunger Caucus, hosted the final 2015 event in an international food and nutrition security briefing series, “What’s Food Got to Do with It?” on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 with a panel discussion entitled, “Ag 2.0: Building Nutrition-Sensitive Development Programs to Tackle Hunger in the 21st Century.” Roger Thurow, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Global Affairs moderated the briefing. Panelists included Arlene Mitchell, Executive Director at the Global Child Nutrition Foundation; Sarah Simons, Advisor at Save the Children; and Navyn Salem, Founder and Executive Director at Edesia.

The panel explored the need for nutrition-sensitive development programs to tackle malnutrition and hunger using comprehensive, multi-sector approaches (agriculture, health, WASH, education, etc) in both emergency and development contexts when possible. Every country in the world is affected by one or more forms of malnutrition (including undernutrition, obesity, or micronutrient deficiencies). Children are often the most harmed by malnutrition, causing a loss of human and economic potential. Progress is being seen in reducing malnutrition, especially with recent investments by the public and private sector into researching and implementing new nutrition-sensitive programming and the growth in the availability of new nutritional products, improved seeds, and advanced technology across the agriculture spectrum.

Many nutrition-sensitive programs are designed to be context specific, and the panel discussed opportunities and challenges for ensuring greater access to these new practices and technologies and ways to continue to increase uptake in developing countries. The conversation ranged from making sure agriculture products are nutritious and accessible to changing social behaviors and customs.


The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


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