Summary and Highlights - Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition

Viet Nam and Child Mortality / Photo by Kibae Park

Background: Why 1,000 Days?

“Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition” will take place June 10-11, 2013. It’s a chance to celebrate all that has been achieved in the approximately 1,000 days since September 2010 -- when both “1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future,” an international call to action on early childhood malnutrition, and the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, led by countries facing a significant malnutrition problem, were launched. The United States and Ireland were leaders in the 1,000 Days call to action, and Uganda, Malawi, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Ghana were among the first to commit to the goals of SUN.

The initial 1,000-day phase of these new, significant global efforts to reduce early childhood malnutrition is coming to a close. But why is there so much talk about “1,000 Days”? These first 1,000 days of increased global efforts on maternal/child nutrition mirror a critical 1,000-day period in human life. We now have definitive scientific and medical evidence that this period -- from a mother’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday -- is a “window of opportunity” when people are growing and changing rapidly, making it a time when sufficient nutritious food is vital. In fact, malnutrition during this window causes millions of children every year to die or suffer irreversible, lifelong health and cognitive damage.

This is why anti-hunger advocates must keep the 1,000 Days on the front burner. We only have one chance to get this right. If a child misses out on essential nutrients before her first birthday, better nutrition in her preschool years may strengthen her health, but it cannot make up for the ground lost in infancy. But 1,000 Days is also an opportunity: good nutrition during this finite period is affordable, and it sets a child up for a lifetime of good health and the capacity to contribute to her or his community.

To see where "Sustaining Political Commitments" sits in "nutrition history," take a look at this interactive timeline that highlights some of the biggest moments since 2008.

In response to the call to action, Bread for the World and Concern Worldwide hosted “1,000 Days to Scale up Nutrition for Mothers and Children: Building Political Commitment” in June 2011.  The goals of this meeting were to help organize a voice for civil society in order to maintain and build on the political momentum behind the SUN Movement, and to assess progress on efforts already being made to scale up nutrition at the country level, identify challenges, and develop a joint advocacy agenda for upcoming global forums.   

One outcome of this meeting was a civil society joint statement that called for:

  • National governments to lead the way
  • Scaling up of nutrition programs
  • International leadership
  • Increased focus on human capacity
  • Accountability

Furthermore, the meeting began a new and exciting process of engagement among civil society stakeholders that laid the foundation for a stronger enabling environment for civil society to be an important and influential player within the SUN movement at the country level. All country representatives identified key priorities and actions to further strengthen the involvement and ownership of civil society at national level. The meeting spurred the establishment of civil society platforms and alliances in SUN countries. Building on this, in September 2011 Civil Society Alliances in 11 SUN countries developed proposals to enhance civil society engagement in the SUN Movement. Most received funding through the SUN Multi-Partner Trust Fund, a new mechanism through which funds could be received, proposals reviewed, and grants provided.

The SUN Movement has made tremendous progress during the first 1,000 Days. To date, 40 countries have joined the Scaling up Nutrition Movement. These countries are home to 80 million stunted children, representing nearly half of the global stunting burden. Twenty of these countries have costed out national plans. In addition, the SUN Movement has transitioned to a more formal and structured way of working, with a high-level Lead Group that is supported by a small secretariat and four stakeholder networks, including one for civil society.  

Nutrition was more prominent at global meetings in 2012. During the World Health Organization’s annual meeting, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution that included six nutrition targets, including targets on stunting and wasting. The 2012 G-8 Summit and The Child Survival Call to Action included nutrition as a key component of the new food security and maternal and child health commitments. In addition, in the lead up to the 2012 G-8 Summit, President Obama delivered a major speech on global hunger and food security in which he said that the United States would continue to focus on maternal and child nutrition.

The 1,000 Days Call to Action, and the 1,000 Days Partnership that emerged from it, have played a critical role in increasing attention to the urgency of addressing malnutrition. U.S. leadership has helped elevate nutrition in global, regional, and country agendas. The first 1,000-day period—from the launch of the 1,000 Days Call to Action in September 2010 through June 2013—has mobilized support for maternal and child nutrition across governments, civil society, and the private sector.

The Next 1,000 Days

The next 1,000-day period—coinciding with the deadline of the MDGs and the beginning of a new global development framework—offers a new political window of opportunity to build on initial work and realize significant new gains in advocating for improvements in maternal and child nutrition. Bread for the World and Concern Worldwide are joining with partner organizations to hold a civil society event in Washington on June 10, 2013, near the culmination of the first 1,000 Days.

The purposes of this meeting are to reconvene civil society, government representatives, international organizations, private sector representatives, and other stakeholders to celebrate progress and reflect on the experiences and lessons from the first 1,000 Days; to reaffirm political commitment to renew and strengthen the Call to Action for the next 1,000 Days; to identify policy and implementation challenges and to discuss ways to amplify civil society’s voice and mobilize civil society action in advocacy and in developing and supporting nutrition plans and goals, especially at the country level. Meeting organizers will particularly seek out the participation of representatives of the SUN Civil Society Network. This meeting will be held alongside Bread for the World’s biannual gathering of grassroots anti-hunger activists.  The Bread activists from across the country will carry what they learn about 1,000 Days and SUN to Capitol Hill on June 11 and to their churches and communities thereafter.

The convening will follow a series of meetings at the global level on nutrition, including a high level meeting on hunger, nutrition, and climate justice in Ireland in April, a UNICEF conference on nutrition, the launch of the new Lancet Series on maternal and child nutrition, and the U.K.-hosted Hunger and Nutrition Summit, which will be held two days earlier on June 8 in London. The U.K. Hunger Summit will be the key pledging moment for nutrition. The June 10th civil society event will provide a U.S. platform to bring attention to the outcomes of the Hunger Summit, showcase and celebrate the U.S. leadership and role, through the 1,000 Day Call to Action, in supporting SUN and the many achievements of the first 1,000 days, and for the U.S. government to update a largely U.S. audience on U.S. nutrition investments and new commitments made in London.

President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania / Photo by Laura Pohl

Policy Goals and Objectives:

At this international civil society-led event in June, we seek to renew the 1,000 Days Call to Action to continue increasing the political will to scale up action and resources to improve maternal and child nutrition. This will be happen within the context of a U.S. global initiative on hunger and poverty, the final push on the Millennium Development Goals, and negotiations on a post-2015 development framework. During the next 1,000 Days, it will be necessary to deepen the commitment among stakeholders to work together to consolidate the impressive and much-needed gains made to scale up nutrition during the initial 1,000 Days and to realize the full potential of the SUN Movement.

Specific objectives for the meeting: 

  • To enshrine and embed U.S. political leadership on 1,000 Days.
  • To advance civil society advocacy and engagement in SUN.

The meeting will advance a set of short and medium term goals for the next 1,000 Days:

At the global level —

  • Continued political leadership on nutrition in the 1,000-day window of opportunity, particularly by the U.S. government
  • A critically needed financing pledge announced to support costed nutrition plans of SUN countries and other countries taking action to scale up nutrition
  • Agreement on an interim global stunting target and plans for how to reach that goal between 2013 and 2016
  • Inclusion of a specific nutrition goal and target, especially a stunting target and indicator, in the post-2015 development framework

At the country level —

  • Participation of all 36 high burden countries in either the Scaling up Nutrition Movement or actions to scale up nutrition
    • Within the next 1,000 Days, all SUN countries will have costed action plans and commitments to implement the action plans
  • Greater voice and participation of local civil society organizations in developing and implementing national nutrition plans;
  • Increased investments to improve nutrition capacity at the national level

Announcements and Documents anticipated to be released at the meeting:

  • Civil society declaration 

Launch of the 2013 Hunger Report

Format of the Meeting:

Day One will be a high-level event with representatives from nutrition stakeholders: governments including members of SUN, civil society organizations, multilateral institutions, and private sector.  

During the first half of the day, the format will be keynote addresses and panel presentations. Speakers would include high-level representatives from SUN country governments, the U.S. and Irish governments and other donor governments, the SUN Lead Group, and international and SUN country civil society organizations. This portion of the day will include U.S.-based grassroots activists attending Bread for the World’s national gathering, who will be meeting their members of Congress the next day fresh with the knowledge gained the day before.  The second half of the day will break into discussion groups. Potential topics include:

  • capacity development,
  • best practices in scaling up nutrition
  • nutrition sensitive development
  • tracking progress on implementation

Cross cutting themes through out the day will be around nutrition as part of a resilience agenda and elevating nutrition in the post 2015 agenda.

Expected Outcomes for Day One:
Panels and breakout sessions will

  • Celebrate and reflect on global efforts to scale up nutrition during the past 1,000 Days
  • Look ahead to the next  1,000 Days and discuss key opportunities  and needs  

Nutrition stakeholders will announce recent or new commitments to addressing nutrition over the next 1,000 Days.

Day Two will convene civil society organizations and focus on civil society activities, including discussions of how to increase civil society’s role and visibility in the next 1,000 Days.

Expected Outcomes for Day Two:

  • Identify ways to increase civil society’s role and visibility in the next 1,000 Days
  • Finalize a civil society declaration
  • Identify key priority areas for a civil society action plan for the next year

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