Italy - Nutrition

Italy has shown international political leadership on nutrition issues, though funding is low

Nutrition is a component of the Italian Development Cooperation’s (AICS) broader focus on agriculture and food security.

For many years, Italy has demonstrated international leadership in the nutrition sector. Italy reaffirmed its focus on food security and nutrition during its 2017 G7 presidency. Italy committed support to the United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s call for urgent action in several famine-stricken African countries and pledged to raise collective support for nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this, Italy did not make any concrete financial commitments to nutrition during its G7 presidency. However, in November 2017, the Italian Ministry of Health hosted the Global Nutrition Summit in Milan. The Global Nutrition Summit is 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.


Nutrition-specific: 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.

Nutrition-sensitive: Interventions that address underlying causes of malnutrition and that take into account cross-sector actions and impacts (i.e., improving access to diverse foods).

Italy has also shown leadership around the United Nations’ 2016-2025 Decade of Action on Nutrition, jointly launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2018, Italy launched a ‘Decade of Nutrition’ platform to share information around healthy diets and nutrition produced by national research institutes.

According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Italy’s funding for basic nutrition (nutrition-specific activities) stood at US$10 million in 2018, up from US$6 million in 2017. However, precisely quantifying Italy’s engagement in the nutrition sector is difficult, particularly as Italy does not participate in the reporting framework set by the ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ (SUN) initiative to track nutrition-sensitive interventions.

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. Within AICS, the ‘Rural Development and Food Security’ office drives Italy’s policy around nutrition. 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. The government has strong ties with these Rome based UN agencies known as the ‘Rome Agri-food hub'.