EU - Nutrition

EU - Nutrition

The EU is a strong supporter of multilateral initiatives on nutrition

Nutrition is an important priority for the European Institutions. In 2016, the European Commission contributed US$526 million as nutrition-sensitive interventions, according to the Global Nutrition Report 2018. Of this, US$105 million was reported as funding for basic nutrition to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in 2017.

The EU has defined three priorities as outlined in its 2014 Action Plan for Nutrition: 

  • First, EU aims for stronger commitments and mobilization for nutrition on the country level and on international levels through initiatives such as the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement. The EU pledged €3.5 billion (US$3.9 billion) for 2014 to 2020 to fight malnutrition through projects in the agriculture, education, water, and social protection sectors (i.e. nutrition-sensitive programs). Furthermore, US$533 million will be spent on nutrition-specific programs. 
  • Second, the EU aspires to strengthen human and institutional capacity at the country level in order to promote the delivery of services relevant to nutrition. The EU aims to support the development of national nutritional strategies as well as national policy frameworks that are conducive to 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. The Commission reported a three-fold increase in spending for Nutrition for Growth in 2016 as an effort to meet its Nutrition For Growth (N4G) €3.5 billion pledge for the current MFF.

A variety of initiatives were set up by the Commission in order to work towards its nutrition goals. 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 years of age, who suffer from growth stunting and associated cognitive under-development.

The EU is also active in driving support for nutrition multilaterally. The EU and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) launched a partnership in 2015 to support food and nutrition security in 61 countries around the world, called the Food and Nutrition Security Impact, Resilience, Sustainability and Transformation (FIRST). The EU is contributing €50 million to this initiative (FAO’s contribution is €23.5 million), comprising two five-year programs. The FIRST facility aims to provide policy assistance and capacity development to national governments to improve nutrition and food security. It entails an information program (‘the Information on Nutrition, Food Security and Resilience for Decision Making’; INFORMED for short), designed to increase the ability to cope with food crises by supplying the necessary information and data to policymakers in individual countries.

DG DEVCO Directorate on Sustainable Growth and Development is most relevant for nutrition issues

Within the Commission’s Directorate-General for Development Cooperation (DG DEVCO), the Directorate C, ‘Planet and Prosperity’, contains the unit relevant for nutrition, Unit C1 for ‘Rural Development, Food Security, and Nutrition’.