The EU is a strong supporter of multilateral initiatives on nutrition
Nutrition is an important priority for the European institutions. The European Union has three important strategic priorities that it has outlined in its 2014 Action Plan for Nutrition. First, the EU aims for stronger commitment and mobilization for nutrition on country and international levels through initiatives such as the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement. To this end, the EU has pledged €3.5 billion (US$4.6 billion) for 2014 to 2020 for nutrition programs, in the framework the SUN movement. Second, nutrition interventions at the country-level are targeted to facilitate sustainable improvements in nutrition. Third, the EU intends to invest in research and to support information systems, as well as providing technical support for the implementation of nutrition initiatives.
A variety of initiatives were set up by the Commission in order to work towards its nutrition goals. The Food Facility, for example, was set up from 2008 to 2011 with a budget of €1 billion (US$1.3 billion) to boost agricultural productivity and tackle hunger. The European Commission claimed that the scheme benefited 150 million people around the world. Of the 232 projects that were conducted through the scheme, 80 specifically addressed nutrition and safety net measures. The EU also intends to tackle ‘hidden hunger’, which refers to vitamin and mineral (micronutrient) deficiencies that are often undetected as they do not manifest themselves as more recognizable ‘chronic hunger’. Specifically, the EU aims to significantly reduce the number of children under five who suffer from wasting and stunting and associated cognitive under-development.
The EU is also active in driving support for nutrition multilaterally. The EU and the FAO launched a partnership in July 2015 to support food and nutrition security in at least 35 countries around the world. The EU is contributing €50 million (US$66 million) to this initiative, (FAO’s contribution is €23.5 million or US$31.2 million) comprising two five-year programs. The Food and Nutrition Security Impact, Resilience, Sustainability and Transformation (FIRST) facility aims to enable national governments to improve food security. It entails an information program (the Information for Nutrition Food Security and Resilience programme), designed to increase the ability to cope with food crises by supplying the necessary information and data to policy-makers in individual countries.
At the Nutrition for Growth Summit in 2013, the Commission made the second-largest commitment, announcing it would invest US$4.6 billion to fight malnutrition through projects in the agriculture, education, water, and social protection sectors between 2014 and 2020. US$533 million will be spent on nutrition-specific programs.
Interventions that address immediate causes of undernutrition and have the improvement of nutrition (i.e., support for exclusive breastfeeding, supplementary feeding, etc.) as their primary objective.
Interventions that address underlying causes of malnutrition and that take into account cross-sector actions and impacts (i.e., improving access to diverse foods).
DG DEVCO Directorate on Sustainable Growth and Development is most relevant for nutrition issues
Within the Commission’s Directorate-General for Development Cooperation – EuropeAid (DG DEVCO), the Directorate C, ‘Sustainable Growth and Development’, contains the Unit relevant for nutrition: Unit C1 ‘rural development, food security, and nutrition’.