The Scaling Up Nutrition Movement recently gathered more than 900 participants from 60 countries including Nigeria, spanning government, academia, civil society, the United Nations and the business community recently in Abidjan for the 2017 Global Gathering to review progress in tackling malnutrition and share innovations and best practices to drive progress.

Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Gerda Verburg, in her opening remarks stated that while progress has been made on under nutrition, more needs to be done as good nutrition is integral to achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The SUN Global gathering is for us to inspire each other and about getting the food systems right. Nutrition is important for education, nutrition is important for health, nutrition is important for the economy and to improve the GDP. We need to find instruments to build collaboration focused on impacts and results and to build partnerships with the private sector. The challenge of under-nutrition and obesity is one that behoves on us to build bridges between countries dealing with these issues to address them” she said.

“There are 10 million fewer children who are stunted today than there were when the SUN movement started seven years ago, but millions of children are still being left behind,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, who serves as Chair of the SUN Movement Lead Group. “To end malnutrition in all its forms, we need to expand our work – including by deepening our focus on children trapped in humanitarian emergencies and addressing the growing obesity epidemic that disproportionately affects the most disadvantaged children in every society – and integrate our efforts with other development sectors, breaking down the silos that limit our progress.” He added.

Also speaking at the gathering, President of the African Development Bank Akinwumi A. Adesina revealed that Africa loses US$25 billion a year to malnutrition. He further stated that although there is surplus food in the world, 800 million people live in extreme poverty and hunger globally with about 1.3 billion tonnes of food going to waste every year.

He urged governments to invest in Nutrition. In his words “We need to ensure that community based nutrition systems are strengthened; that we enhance general food safety, especially in the informal food markets that dominate most African cities”

Contributing to a Plenary Session on how Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and the Learning system can shape the SUN Movement, Project Director of the Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria’s (CS-SUNN), Beatrice Eluaka said it has stimulated cross border exchange of information, knowledge, innovations, integrated approaches across  African counties  towards addressing malnutrition.

“This formed the focus of exchanges during the learning route in Rwanda. We met local champions at the community level who were addressing issues of malnutrition, saw public private partnership at work, and developed our innovative plans aimed at addressing malnutrition on returning home.  For instance Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone recently collaborated to develop a guide for mapping to be used in West Africa” She said.

The gathering also witnessed the launch of the 2017 SUN Movement Progress Report which explored the successes seen and progress made from 2016 to 2017, across the 60 Countries and three Indian States that drive the Movement and what lays in store for the upcoming year to end malnutrition in all its forms, for all women, men and their families in every part of the world.

The SUN Global Gathering brings together all SUN Government Focal Points and representatives of their partners from civil society, donors, United Nations agencies, private sector partners, academia, media, parliamentarians and others. It is the flagship event of the SUN Movement and an important moment where members take stock of progress and challenges, share their innovations and learn what is helping to reduce malnutrition across all SUN Countries. It is a moment for every actor to be energised and encouraged through sharing, learning and finding ways to take their fight against malnutrition to the next level.