In Brief: Too soon for nutrition pledges, USAID adviser says

A recipient of U.S. food assistance takes wheat, yellow peas, and oil in Barisal District, Bangladesh. Photo by: Save the Children / USAID / CC BY-NC

It’s still too early for the United States to announce any concrete commitments for September’s United Nations Food Systems Summit and December’s Nutrition for Growth Summit, according to Shawn Baker, chief nutritionist at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“To a certain extent, we’re still in the beginning because our nominee for the administrator has not been confirmed by the Senate yet,” Baker said Friday during an online event hosted by Harvard University.

Baker said USAID is currently updating some of its key nutrition guidance documents, which will help define what types of pledges and commitments the U.S. may make at the events. USAID is “refreshing” the Global Food Security Strategy, which is the basis for the Feed the Future initiative, as well as updating the Global Nutrition Coordination Plan.

“That will shape a lot of what we’re able to bring to the table. In terms of other specific commitments, it’s still early days. But we are deeply engaged in the Nutrition for Growth process, also in shaping the Food Systems Summit,” Baker said.

The background: The events are being held as part of what the nutrition community is calling a “year of action” on nutrition, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the Nutrition for Growth Summit last year.

'Today is the starting line': Nutrition for Growth kicks off year of action

Countries and organizations made commitments toward the 2021 Nutrition for Growth Summit, to be held in Japan.

Organizers hope to spur financial pledges from donors and national governments, as well as commitments to make progress on nutrition goals — such as reducing stunting — and food systems reform, to ensure all people have access to safe, affordable, and nutritious food. In December of last year, a Nutrition for Growth kickoff, hosted by Bangladesh, Canada, and Japan, saw $3 billion in commitments and recommitments.

About the author

  • Teresa Welsh

    Teresa Welsh has reported from more than 10 countries and is currently based in Washington, D.C. Her coverage focuses on Latin America; U.S. foreign assistance policy; fragile states; food systems and nutrition; and refugees and migration. Prior to joining Devex, Teresa worked at McClatchy's Washington Bureau and covered foreign affairs for U.S. News and World Report. She was a reporter in Colombia, where she previously lived teaching English. Teresa earned bachelor of arts degrees in journalism and Latin American studies from the University of Wisconsin.