Italy is a leader in international cooperation on nutrition issues, though funding is low
In Italy’s development policy, nutrition is a key component within Italy’s larger focus on agriculture and food security: the fight against undernutrition and malnutrition is listed as a priority of the ‘sustainable agriculture and food security’ sector in the strategic guidelines of Italian cooperation for 2015 to 2017. It is likely also to figure prominently in the 2016-2018 guidelines.
Italy has demonstrated international leadership in the nutrition sector and has pushed the issue forward at international events. Food security and nutrition will likely be a key area of Italy’s G7 presidency in 2017. In 2015, Italy organized the EXPO 2015 in Milan, entitled ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’, to draw attention to nutrition and food-security issues. As part of the EXPO, the Italian government developed the ‘Milan Charter’ document aimed at engaging other governments, civil society, the private sector, and individuals to engage in the fight against under- and malnutrition. In 2012, Italy took part in the establishment of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. It pledged to disburse a total of US$165 million by 2022. However, as of 2015, it had disbursed only US$20 million, compared to the US$42 million it should have disbursed to stay on track with its commitment.
In the framework of its bilateral cooperation through its new development agency, AICS, Italy focuses its nutrition interventions on qualitative improvement of food production, with particular attention given to new technologies.
Quantifying Italy’s engagement in the area is difficult, particularly as Italy did not make a commitment at the 2013 Nutrition for Growth Summit, a summit where participating countries signed on to a ‘global compact’ to improve nutrition and made a range of individual commitments. Italy also doesn’t participate in the reporting framework set by the ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ (SUN) initiative to track nutrition-sensitive interventions. According to OECD DAC data, Italy’s funding for basic nutrition is very low: it stood at US$2.4 million in 2015.
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).
Nutrition policy is shaped by the DGCS and by AICS offices
Priorities are set by the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation (DGCS), within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MAECI). Relevant departments include geographic departments and the office of ‘Multilateral Cooperation’. The Italian ambassador to the UN institutions in Rome (Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, and World Food Programme, WFP) also plays a key role in defining priorities on nutrition. Within the Italian development agency, AICS, the ‘rural development and food security’ office is in charge of driving Italy’s policy around nutrition.