The Food Systems and Nutrition handbook, published by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in April 2021, provides lawmakers with practical guidance on legislative processes that prioritise nutrition. It was produced in collaboration with the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the African Union Development Agency's New Partnership for Africa's Development (AUDA-NEPAD).
After decades of steady decline, the percentage of people who are undernourished globally has been on the rise since 2014. One out of three people on the earth suffers from at least one form of malnutrition, and the economic loss attributable to poor nutrition is estimated at USD 3.5 trillion per year. Recent research on the worldwide burden of disease has found that a suboptimal diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk. Being one of the major global multi-sectoral issues, it is crucial that it be addressed by the world's parliaments.
The handbook emphasizes that access to food alone is not enough; people need nourishment from healthy diets. Delivering such healthy diets requires a holistic approach supporting diets made up of foods that promote all dimensions of individuals' health and well-being. This approach must incorporate the entire food system - food production, processing, distributing, marketing, supplying, eating and disposal. Every aspect of the food system must align to support good nutrition. Single interventions in isolation will likely have limited impact.
Parliamentarians can play a major role in improving food systems in their respective countries, and the handbook identifies entry points for parliamentary interventions. Recommended actions using existing case studies are described for these entry points, which cover the following four areas:
The handbook is currently available in English, French and Spanish.
Read more and download the Food Systems and Nutrition handbook at FAO website