At the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit (N4G) 2021, government representatives and leaders in the public and private sector call for action and urgency to tackle malnutrition and obesity across the globe. The recent summit, which took place in Tokyo, Japan, is the third international N4G conference promoting global efforts to address nutrition related issues.
Leaders from around the world working in government, the private sector, and civil society organizations joined the virtual conference to showcase policy and financial commitments to ending global malnutrition in all its forms. They also highlight youth perspectives and discuss the role of food systems transformations as well as financing and universal health coverage in tackling the global crisis.
“The double burden of malnutrition and undernutrition, which hinders growth, and overnutrition, which causes lifestyle related diseases, is an issue facing the entire world,” says Hayashi Yoshimasa, the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs. “All stakeholders including governments of both developed and developing countries and the private sector, civil society and academia need to work together to address this important issue.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2021 around 45 percent of deaths among children under five are linked to undernutrition, and around 149 million children are stunted. An estimated 38.9 children and 1.9 billion adults are overweight or obese, and 462 million adults are underweight. While participants agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic significantly worsened conditions, food insecurity and malnutrition had already been on the rise.
Participating stakeholders pledged a total of US$27 billion to tackle these issues. Their commitments prioritized access to healthy foods, tackling malnutrition in children, and improved health coverage.
Panelists also discussed the role of the global food system in contributing to hunger and malnutrition. “Investments should be directed towards sustainable food systems in order to reduce poverty and food insecurity,” says Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Several commitments by stakeholders over the two-day conference included ways to empower food producers and workers to promote local resilience and healthy diets. Special attention was given to supporting women in agriculture with the educational and financial tools to improve skills and access to markets. Dr. Myrna Cunningham, President of the Fund for Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, argues that women already play a key role in supporting local food and nutrition security as well as restoring biodiversity and recovering traditional practices.
Youth also voiced their concerns about the impact of malnutrition on children around the world. They shared their own commitments to hold decision-makers accountable, establish networks to better promote transformative nutritional policies at local and national levels, as well as create spaces for marginalized voices to be heard.
“When tackling the nutrition challenge, no one should be left behind,” says Kishida Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan. “Now is the time to bring together all the wisdom and determination of everyone in the world and take a giant step toward improving nutrition.”