Can nutrition become a global priority?

How to use the SDGs to make sure Nutrition becomes a global priority

For the next 15 years, the international development agenda will be centered on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Each country will have to make sure that national development plans, as well as all new policies, are aligned with the SDGs. Priorities listed in national development plans will be THE country priorities, in terms of political and financial commitment. This is why it is essential that nutrition is included in these national plans and other key political frameworks, to make sure it is a country priority with dedicated funding. 

After several years of working for Action Against Hunger to support our country offices’ advocacy, I felt that, confronted with a rather complicated framework such as the SDGs, we needed to develop a toolkit to help our missions understand why the SDGs are essential for progress towards nutrition and have a dramatic impact on the policy context of the countries where we operate. The toolkit was then subsequently adapted by the SUN CSN for use by wider civil society.

The ultimate objective of this tool is to ensure that the SDGs related to nutrition are well-integrated in national development plans, policies, and strategies. It is quite long, as it introduces the different steps that can be taken to influence government’s policies, but also provides “à la carte” and ready-to-use key messages for each SDG, clearly explaining linkages with nutrition and what targets and indicators should be adopted at national level.

Beyond the content of this toolkit, here are a few practical advices on how to deal with the SDGs as part of your advocacy for the fight against malnutrition.

  • See the SDGs as a tremendous opportunity to make sure that nutrition is identified by your country as a priority, and not as an additional workload!
  • Remember that beyond a good multisectoral nutrition plan, there won’t be any progress on the nutrition situation unless the different ministries take ownership of this issue and use the key messages of the toolkit to influence every contributing sector policies (health, education, water and sanitation, agriculture, food security, climate change, etc.).
  • Remember that you can use this advocacy toolkit for advocacy both at national and subnational level: local development plans are most often easier to influence and can have greater impact than a national policy
  • Keep in mind the importance of data and evidence, and, beyond the key messages included in this toolkit, spend time to gather nutrition data to present the burden of malnutrition in your country, but also the different causes you have identified. Remember that the idea is to convince people that don’t know anything about nutrition, so use killer facts and go to the essential. For example, use the argument of return on investment: a $1 investment in nutrition has demonstrated a $16 return in economic growth, making it one of the best buys in development with a rate of return greater than 10%.
  • As easy first steps, you could:
    • Try to find out if there is a focal point working on the implementation of the SDGs at the national level
    • Identify the consultation and revision processes for national development plans and policies and how this potentially fits into work you are already doing
    • Build a strong coalition for your advocacy and think outside the box, or outside the nutrtion community! There are strong existing civil society coalitions working on topics that are closely related to nutrition, such as women empowerment (women’s association), agriculture (farmers), water and sanitation (ex: Sanitation and Water for All civil society platforms), health (ex: Every Woman Every Child civil society platforms), etc.

As countries develop their national development plans and adopt new policies, the main message you need to repeat over and over and to pass on to every decision maker, is that good nutrition, as a basic building block of human capital, is essential for the success of all the SDGs.


Christelle Huré, Nutrition Security Advocacy Adviser, ACTION AGAINST HUNGER