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United Nations ACC Sub-Committee on Nutrition. (SCN)


The Economic and Social Council at its Sixty-Third Session approved a set of new institutional arrangements related to nutrition and proposed by the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination (ACC) of the United Nations system. These arrangements include the establishment of the ACC Sub-Committee on Nutrition to be serviced by a small interagency secretariat. The Sub-Committee is to assist in harmonizing the nutrition policies and activities of the United Nations system. It will receive expert advice from an Advisory Group on Nutrition (AGN), which will have a membership of eight, representing the major disciplinary areas within a comprehensive approach to nutrition.

The meetings of the AGN, which will take the place of the Protein-Calorie Advisory Group of the United Nations system (PAG), will be serviced by the Sub-Committee's secretariat. There will also be tripartite meetings involving members of the ACC Sub-Committee and its Advisory Group on Nutrition with representatives of bilateral agencies and institutions-especially those from developing countries-active in the field of nutrition. Every two or three years a small expert group will make an independent review of nutrition problems and the work of the United Nations system.

The Secretariat of the ACC Sub-Committee, which will also service the Advisory Group on Nutrition, is located in the FAO, which will administer it on behalf of all agencies concerned.

ACC Sub-Committee on Nutrition (SCN)

The concerned agencies will be represented on the Sub-Committee by the senior officers with responsibility for action on nutrition in the respective agencies. The Sub-Committee is expected to meet twice a year and to keep under review the over-all direction, scale, coherence, and impact of the United Nations system's response to the nutrition problems of the world. It is first to be a point of convergence in harmonizing the policies and activities in the United Nations system; second to provide initiative in the development and harmonization of concepts, policies and strategies, and programmes in the United Nations system in response to the nutritional needs of countries, and third to appraise experience and progress towards achievement of objectives, and to lay down guidelines for mutually supporting action at interagency and country levels. It will refer to the ACC issues in need of resolution and suggest ways to approach specific problems, such as the formation of special task forces or working groups.

Its terms of reference are:

1. to examine the existing and projected activities of the United Nations system with reference to the implementation of the resolutions of the World Food Conference related to nutrition improvement, taking account of the relevant decisions of the governing bodies of the agencies concerned;

2. to determine whether the efforts of the system are fully mobilized and integrated, in co-operation with the governments at all levels, in order to achieve maximum impact at the country level, taking into account programmes being undertaken on a bilateral basis;

3. to consider whether the existing arrangements and resources can respond effectively to the major nutrition problems of the developing world.

The Sub-Committee has already met three times, in September and December 1977 and March 1978, at FAO headquarters in Rome. Representatives of the following agencies and parts of the UN system have participated in one or more of the meetings: UN (ESA) and (OIACC), UNESCO, WHO, World Bank, UNICEF, UNDP, WFP, UN University, WFC, UNEP, and FAO.

The Sub-Committee has agreed that initially it will:

1. provide initiatives toward developing a co-ordinated and consistent approach by international agencies for collaborating with governments in choosing options for action to improve nutrition; initiatives toward including nutrition considerations in national development planning and initiatives toward developing nutrition-planning systems and policies;

2. take initiatives toward achieving complementarily and co-ordination of activities of the concerned international agencies in regard to the direction, scale, coherence, and impact in response to the nutrition problems of the world, including the setting of objectives for the inter national effort and a periodic review of progress;

3. keep under continuing review the major determinants of nutrition status, particularly the general situation of food production, food distribution and utilization, food security, sanitary conditions, breast-feeding practices and other pertinent socio-economic conditions, and call attention to special problems in these areas;

4. arrange for regular information exchange, consultation, and, where appropriate, co-ordination of action with concerned agencies and organizations outside the UN system;

5. examine every two to three Years reviews of the general food and nutrition situation in the world with special attention to nutrition, and assess the implications for vulnerable groups in developing countries;

6. sponsor periodic reviews of various aspects of the "state of the art", i.e. knowledge about problems of nutrition and ways to deal with them;

7. identify priority needs for applied research and training, both for the understanding of the multi-factoral basis of nutrition problems and for the development and management of policies and programmes for the prevention of these problems;

8. mobilize the institutional, human, and financial resources of the UN system and other organizations to meet nutrition needs, with special emphasis on developing countries;

9. maintain relations with concerned agencies and organizations outside the UN system and with the scientific community in order to ensure that full use is made of their potential contribution.

The Sub-Committee, at its first and second sessions, initiated work on the following substantive matters:

1. making an inventory of operational and approved activities directly concerned with the improvement of nutrition in order to achieve better co-ordination of programmes;
2. considering the food and nutrition situation in order to assess its implications for vulnerable groups in developing countries;
3. evaluating nutrition intervention programmes with the aim of producing guidelines for the formulation and implementation of projects;
4. reviewing progress and gaps in the field of nutrition surveillance;
5. analyzing the available methodologies for nutrition planning and the operational aspects of their application;
6. drawing up a short list of priorities for research;
7. studying the flow of external resources for the improvement of nutrition in developing countries;
8. developing criteria and procedures for the systematic introduction of nutrition considerations in major projects in agricultural and rural development;
9. developing a harmonized and consistent approach to assistance policies.

Advisory Group on Nutrition (AGN)

The following terms of reference have been established for the AGN.

1. Provide advice on matters referred to it by the ACC Sub-Committee on Nutrition (SCN), with particular reference to multidisciplinary problems, the linkages between various activities designed to tackle the nutrition problem, and the overall orientation of the nutrition efforts of the UN system.

2. Bring to the notice of the SCN other issues which it considers need special attention.

3. Help execute where appropriate the programme of work as formulated and approved by the SCN.

4. Maintain relations with concerned agencies and organizations outside the UN system and with the scientific community, and to help the SCN ensure that the UN system makes full use of their potential contributions.

Members of the AGN are Drs. S. Venkitaramanan, B.N.
Okigbo, P.E. Soysa, F. Aylward, A. Horwitz, and R. Buzina.
The Chairman is Mr. S. Chafkin and the Vice-Chairman
Dr. F. Sail

Relations with Interested Bilateral Agencies and Other Agencies Working in Nutrition

There will be annual informal tripartite meetings involving members of the SCN, the AGN, and agencies and representative institutions active in nutrition, especially those from developing countries. The purpose of these meetings will be:

1. to serve as a "clearing house" for information about the nutrition activities of the UN system, bilateral agencies, and other institutions active in nutrition, especially from developing countries;

2. to exchange views on policies and project priorities for improving nutrition, and to promote co-operation in the formulation and implementation of joint projects to improve nutrition;

3. to mobilize financial and technical resources to implement agreed projects for nutrition improvement at regional and country level.

ACC/SCN Secretariat:

Dr. Leslie Burgess, Secretary (former Regional Advisor in Nutrition for the Western Pacific Region of WHO)


c/o Food Policy and Nutrition Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Via delle Terme di Caracalla 00100 Rome, Italy

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