Italy is a leader in international cooperation on nutrition issues, though funding is low
Nutrition is a component of Italy’s larger focus on agriculture and food security. The fight against hunger is listed as a priority of the ‘agriculture and food security’ sector in the Programming Guidelines and Directions for Italian Development Cooperation 2017-2019.
Italy has demonstrated international leadership in the nutrition sector and has pushed the issue forward at international events. Food security and nutrition were key areas of Italy’s G7 presidency in 2017. The Taormina Leaders’ Communiqué reaffirmed the Elmau commitment to lift 500 million people out of hunger by 2030, it committed support to the UN Secretary General’s call for urgent action in several famine-stricken African countries, and committed to raising collective support – including ODA – for nutrition in sub-Sahara Africa. Nonetheless, no concrete financial commitment was made by Italy during its G7 presidency. The Italian Ministry of Health, together with the City of Milan, also hosted the Global Nutrition Summit in Milan in November 2017, a high-level meeting on nutrition and food, during which the 2017 Global Nutrition Report was launched and stakeholders took stock of commitments and progress made to date. In 2012, Italy took part in the G7’s establishment of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, pledging to disburse a total of US$165 million by 2022.
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. The Italian budget law in December 2017 established a yearly contribution of €500,000 (US$550,000) between 2018 and 2020 to the Milan Center for Food Law and Policy, which focuses on public nutrition policies and which aims to further the nutrition-related objectives of the Agenda 2030. Moreover, Italy established in 2017 a taskforce to implement the ‘Decade of Action on Nutrition’, which aims to identify actions and strategies to take under the framework of the United Nations’ decade of action, jointly launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Italian Ministry of Health seeks to improve dialogue with international institutions - in particular FAO and WHO - to better coordinate cross-cutting actions addressing the "triple burden of malnutrition - with undernourishment, micronutrient deficiency, and obesity".
Precisely quantifying Italy’s engagement in the area is difficult, particularly as Italy did not make a commitment at the 2013 launch of the Nutrition for Growth Summit. Italy also doesn’t participate in the reporting framework set by the ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ (SUN) initiative to track nutrition-sensitive interventions. According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Italy’s funding for basic nutrition is low: It stood at US$6 million in 2016, up from US$2 million in 2015.
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 unit for multilateral cooperation. The Italian ambassador to the UN institutions in Rome (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.