Following the postponement of the Olympics to 2021 due to COVID-19, many people have asked whether the Nutrition for Growth Summit (N4G) is still scheduled to be held in Tokyo in December 2020. The N4G Summit has a symbolic link to the Games, having been initiated alongside the London Olympics, and is being hosted by Japan with a focus on nutrition and universal health coverage.
In the preparatory work for the Summit, representative working groups have prepared ideas commitments on:
- Making nutrition an integral part of the Universal Health Coverage
- Building food systems
- Addressing malnutrition effectively in fragile and conflict-affected contexts
- Promoting data-driven accountability
- Securing new investment and driving innovation in nutrition financing
"The importance of the Summit could not be greater, given the significance of food systems and good nutrition to immune systems and basic health", said Lawrence Haddad, GAIN Executive Director. "For GAIN and our partners working to develop the commitments for the Summit, the work goes on at pace, albeit mainly via virtual meetings - we are making good progress on key areas such as the business responsibility pledge, financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), workforce nutrition, and other areas".
"It is, of course, up to the hosts, the Government of Japan, to decide the arrangements - but now more than ever we support Japan’s aim to deliver a powerful and impactful Summit. The Summit remains critically important to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to tackling the long term effects of COVID-19 - and we should all continue to develop our contributions to it as fast as we possibly can" he added.
The importance of the Summit could not be greater, given the significance of food systems and good nutrition to immune systems and basic health.
While many events linked to develop commitments have been postponed, underpinning work is continuing. The Second Global Summit on Food Fortification, originally planned for this week, has been rescheduled to November, and the monthly meeting of the Business Constituency Group (BCG), made up of leading global business associations planning commitments, have continued by telcon. Furthermore, FAO and GAIN have set up a virtual planning process for work with cities to generate new urban commitment.
Experience from managing other respiratory illnesses tell us that malnourished people will very likely be more vulnerable to COVID-19. In addition, the economic and livelihood disruptions that result and the measures to contain it in lower-middle-income countries (LMICs) will probably have an even larger impact than the disease itself – including perhaps weakening food security – for example by rising hunger through lost parental livelihoods and disrupted school feeding programmes.
"We need to double down support for the N4G, not put action on hold. COVID-19 raises fundamental challenges for the health and food systems and many communities can benefit from intensified efforts around better nutrition, now and in the future" concluded Haddad.