In Brussels, a spotlight on nutrition

    European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs delivers his opening remarks during the Scaling-Up Nutrition event in Brussels, Belgium. Photo by: EU

    Today, the European Commission hosts a high-level meeting on nutrition in Brussels. The focus: ensuring the cause remains atop the development agenda.

    The Scaling-Up Nutrition event comes a day after the release of the commission’s new policy on nutrition. It starts with opening remarks from European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, who will use the event to mobilize support behind the cause, both in terms of funding and partnerships. The European Union has pledged to reduce the number of stunted children by 7 million come 2025.

    The EU is likely to put more funding into nutrition, an EU spokesperson told Devex. But it cannot make any commitment at this point.

    “At the EU level, we are in the period of defining our budgets,” the spokesperson told Devex ahead of the event. “We’re not about pledging new things … before we got a confirmation of how the budget of the EU will look like.”

    The conference, the spokesperson added, won’t be a pledging event, but more “about implementation and keeping the political will” on nutrition.

    Some topics for discussion at the event: how to ensure nutrition is included in the post-2015 development agenda, how to develop a resource-tracking methodology and reporting system for nutrition interventions, how to better finance nutrition, and how to engage the private sector in nutrition-related efforts. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, former Concern Worldwide CEO Tom Arnold, Institute of Development Studies U.K. Director Lawrence Haddad and U.N. Secretary-General Special Representative for Food Security and Nutrition David Nabarro were expected to grace the event.

    The EU communication released Wednesday sets out the bloc’s three priorities on nutrition:

    • Mobilize support and rally political commitments for nutrition at national and international levels.

    • Help boost actions at the country level such as by helping develop national action plans for nutrition and increasing investments in effective interventions in countries with high burdens of undernutrition. These could include the provision of micronutrients such as iron supplements and therapeutic feeding.

    • Widen knowledge on nutrition by investing in research and providing technical assistance.

    The commission is currently working on an action plan that will detail how to achieve its objectives. The plan is expected to include a system that will help the commission measure impact and better track investments.

    “The use of a nutrition marker, in addition to the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee] code system, will be explored,” the document notes.

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    About the author

    • Ravelo jennylei

      Jenny Lei Ravelo

      Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.