London, UK (8 December, 2021) – RESULTS UK welcomes the 300+ commitments from 148 stakeholders at the High Level Sessions at the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit on 7 December in Tokyo, Japan, amounting to a financial contribution of over US $27 billion. But we are extremely disappointed that the UK Government failed to make a financial pledge or express any level of ambition for the impact of its nutrition programmes. The Summit, hosted by the Government of Japan over 7-8 December, aims to galvanise world leaders to take action to tackle rising malnutrition worldwide.
In the run up to the Summit, the UK working group of the International Coalition for Advocacy on Nutrition (ICAN), of which RESULTS UK is a member, called on the UK Government to invest at least £120 million per year in nutrition-specific programming between 2021 and 2025, and £680 million in nutrition-relevant programming over the same period. It also called for a renewal of the previous Government commitment to reach over 50 million children, women, and adolescent girls with nutrition-relevant programmes in the next 5 years and to integrate the ‘OECD nutrition policy marker’ into all development programmes at the design phase across the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) portfolio.
We welcome the announcement by Minister Wendy Morton to integrate the OECD policy marker for nutrition into FCDO programmes, as this will increase the effectiveness of existing programmes on nutrition, and enhance new development programmes where improving nutrition is a stated objective.
However, the N4G Summit was a missed opportunity for the UK Government to make a financial and a ‘reach’ commitment to continued global efforts to tackle malnutrition. This demonstrates a marked lack of ambition and leadership and inhibits the UK’s ability to support good nutrition worldwide, exposing the Government’s narrative about its global leadership as hollow.
Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of RESULTS UK, said:
“The UK has missed a crucial opportunity to make an ambitious commitment to reach people with life-saving and life-changing nutrition interventions at the N4G Summit. The Government’s rhetoric about its global leadership was undermined today by not even making those commitments, let alone backing up its words with financing and action.”
We thank the Government of Japan for hosting the N4G Summit this year, for gathering global leaders to tackle malnutrition, and for commiting over US $2.8 billion to nutrition over the next three years. We welcome the strong commitments made by N4G attendees at the High Level Sessions to deliver their part of the investment needed to improve nutrition globally. We also welcome the announcement that France will host the next N4G Summit in Paris in 2024.
But by neglecting nutrition as a health issue worthy of a financial pledge and a target to reach the millions of children and women at risk of malnutrition, the UK Government raises serious concerns about how it will honour its manifesto commitment of ending preventable deaths of women, new-borns, and children.
Malnutrition is intrinsically linked with poor health and preventable deaths. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, undernutrition was already responsible for 45% of deaths among children under five years of age. But the pandemic has exacerbated the malnutrition crisis and over the next three years it is expected that 283,000 additional children under five will die from malnutrition, and there will be 13.6 million additional cases of wasting (low weight), 3.6 million additional cases of stunting (hindered development), and 4.8 million additional cases of anaemia that will affect women and children worldwide.
Recognising the importance of good nutrition to unlocking health, the UK co-hosted the first ever N4G Summit in 2013 and has long been a well-respected donor, pledging a total of £1.25 billion to tackle malnutrition up until 2020. However, this pledge expired at the end of 2020 and in 2021, the UK slashed its Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget by £4.5 billion, leading to cuts of 70% to its across nutrition programmes.
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RESULTS UK is a movement of passionate, committed, everyday people who together use their voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty. For more information please visit www.results.org.uk