Japan launched the latest Global Nutrition Report (GNR) at a high-level event in Tokyo in April. The GNR was created through a commitment of the signatories of the Nutrition for Growth Summit in London in 2013, at which over US$4 billion was pledged in new commitments from more than 100 countries to improve nutrition. With a core objective to strengthen accountability, the GNR tracks worldwide progress in improving nutrition status, identifies bottlenecks to change and highlights opportunities for action. It is supported by a wide-ranging group of stakeholders and delivered by an independent group of experts in partnership with a large number of external contributors.
Japan is one of the world’s key providers of Official Development Assistance (ODA), including for nutrition. Throughout 2016, the Government of Japan has actively contributed in the areas of nutrition and food security. In August, Japan prioritised nutrition at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) VI. Japan’s International Cooperation Agency also launched the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa to carry out nutrition-improvement projects in Africa. And the Ministry of Finance has invested another US$20 million in the Scaling Up Nutrition Trust Fund of the World Bank, following-up on its initial investment of US$2 million in 2009.
The GNR launch event was to guide action and advocacy to reduce malnutrition worldwide. It was organised by the Japan NGO network on nutrition, including Save the Children, World Vision, Results, Network for Action Against Malnutrition, and the Parliamentary Association for Improving Nutrition for Mothers and Children. It was also supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.
The event was chaired by Eriko Imai, Deputy Secretary General of the Parliamentary Association for Improving Nutrition for Mothers and Children, while the opening address was delivered by Akiko Santo, Chair of the Parliamentary Association for Improving Nutrition for Mothers and Children and Hiroto Izumi, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister. The co-chair of the GNR Independent Expert Group, Dr Emorn Udomkesmalee, was also in attendance and delivered a keynote speech, calling for progress from “promise to impact”, which was also the key theme of the report. The event brought together 217 participants from the government, NGOs, UN agencies, the private sector and academia.
Speaking on behalf of civil society, I had the privilege of delivering a presentation on malnutrition and exclusion, and the importance of leaving no one behind. The talk drew from the recent report published by Save the Children UK, Unequal Portions: Ending malnutrition for every last child. It also highlighted the critical importance of focusing on the most vulnerable populations, including children who are marginalised and at a greater risk of malnutrition because of their gender, ethnicity, geographical location or the socio-economic status of their parents. The talk concluded by calling on the Japanese leadership to end malnutrition, working jointly with civil society and other partners.
It is hoped that Japan will continue to show strong commitment to nutrition, linking its leadership at the 2016 G7 Ise-Shima Summit to the support for the Taormina Initiative this year, and to scaling up resources on food and nutrition security, more broadly.