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Interconnected challenges of climate change & nutrition

Launched on 25th Otober, two reports outlining both the pathways through which nutrition and climate are connected and the current state of action on addressing these two issues. The reports will be launched at a side event co-hosted with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, along with an official reception hosted by Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

The Initiative on Climate and Nutrition (I-CAN) was officially launched by the Government of Egypt in their role as COP27 Presidency as part of the “Adaptation and Agriculture” theme at COP 27. It is a multistakeholder and multi-sectoral program with the specific aim of addressing the two priorities of climate and nutrition in an integrated way and accelerating progress.

In the first report ‘Climate Action and Nutrition: Pathways to Impact’, I-CAN outlines the multiple ways that climate and nutrition are linked, including pathways through agriculture and food, health, water and social protection systems. Across all systems, the report identifies many options for jointly action and sets out how responding to climate change and malnutrition with integrated action provides one solution to two of our biggest barriers to sustainable development.

Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of GAIN, said, “The intersection of climate and nutrition action is rich with opportunities to accelerate advancement in both outcomes. For the first time, an evidence-based report shines a light on those opportunities for decision-makers in government, development agencies, and the private sector. As we approach COP28, a new landscape of opportunity to advance climate and nutrition action has been revealed. We must seize these opportunities for people and the planet.”

The key findings of the ‘Accelerating Action and Opening Opportunities: A Closer Integration of Climate and Nutrition’ report include:

  • No one region has the answer: African, Asian, and Latin American countries are leading the way in integrating nutrition considerations into their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), with 58%, 34%, and 51%, respectively. In contrast, 100% of North America and Western Europe do not include nutrition considerations in their NDCs, while Scandinavian countries lead the way in environmentally sustainable diets.
  • Finance is lagging behind policy: Despite the pressing need, only 3% of Green Climate Fund (GCF) funding from 2021-2022 and 1% of OECD DAC Climate-related finance from 2019-2021 are directly targeted at nutrition improvement.
  • Conflation of nutrition and food security: While 73% of NDCs and 95% of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) mention the keyword “food security,” the numbers mentioning nutrition are lower, specifically 40% (NDCs) and 79% (NAPs), highlighting a significant gap. It is important to note that, while improvements to food security also benefit nutrition, nutrition on its own needs to be higher on policy agendas to address issues beyond hunger and subsistence and to tackle malnutrition in all its forms.
  • Private sector integration challenges: Integration between climate and nutrition is particularly low in the private sector, with no companies strongly scoring in both areas among the 350 companies assessed from the 2021 World Benchmark Alliance (WBA) Food and Agriculture benchmark. A total of 20 out of 434 Global Nutrition Report (GNR) commitments consider climate or environmental sustainability, with just 3 out of 20 coming from the private sector.

Máximo Torero, Chief Economist, FAO said, “Climate change, nutrition, and agrifood systems are the core behind the Initiative on Climate Action and Nutrition. We need to create and catalyze a journey that ensures we are moving toward the commitments on climate and SDG 2.”

I-CAN was formally hosted as a climate and nutrition working group under the Alliance for Transformative Action for Climate and Health (ATACH), co-chaired by the Government of Egypt and GAIN.

By addressing regional disparities, financial challenges, and private sector engagement, I-CAN aims to be a catalyst for transformative change in global food systems and sustainable development.

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