The Landscape of Global Nutrition Governance 

Carly Hayes, University of Waterloo (Nexos Comunitarios intern)

Global governance is a term that is not well-defined by academics or practitioners – is there any way that we can really govern a world that consists of a vast multitude of different contexts and histories, especially in something as personal and cultural as the foods we eat? However, the idea that global governance only exists at the level of countries negotiating with each other at forums such as the United Nations does not capture the fluid and multi-directional nature of global governance. In the world of nutrition, the governance landscape is immense and has a long history, and it is important to understand how what happens at the global level of decision-making in efforts against malnutrition influences actions taken at the local level, where it can have its greatest impact. It would be impossible to cover all of the landmark moments in nutrition governance in a single blog post, but we can examine trends in the governance of nutrition, and how they aligns with the efforts taken in Peru.

Modern global food and nutrition governance began in 1944 with the establishment of the FAO, as a response to inequalities in the global food regime and the oversupply of food in parts of the world, compared to famines and malnourishment running rampant in others (McKeon, 2015). This watershed moment set the stage for the neoliberal, technology, and supply-side interventions that would characterize food governance for the next 60 years. However, it has been acknowledged now by governments that simply increasing the amount of food we produce will not solve problems of malnutrition, as we already produce more than enough food to provide every person on earth with 2800 calories per day (Food Tank, 2014).  Barriers to accessing food, such as isolation, inequality, varying climates, and poverty, need to be addressed as well in order to make any meaningful impact. Peru’s governance of malnutrition has mirrored these fluctuations in the paradigm of global governance, with efforts in the early 1970s being concentrated on the inflow and management of official development assistance coming from Western countries through the National Nutritional Support Office.

In recent years, however, particularly in light of the global food price crisis in 2007-2008, nutrition governance has shifted. This is reflected in the sustainable development goals, discussed in a previous blog post, which take a more “food systems” approach, rather than a “food aid” approach, including targets such as “ensuring sustainable food production,” “maintaining biodiversity,” and “increasing investments in rural infrastructure”(Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, 2015). One of the most widely recognized mechanisms in the global governance of nutrition presently is the World Health Assembly’s 2025 Global Targets for Maternal, Infant, and Child Nutrition, which has set inclusive targets and indicators that have been widely endorsed and have laid the foundation for the development of other multilateral nutrition agreements (World Health Assembly, 2015). The aim was to support the creation of an enabling environment for comprehensive food and nutrition policies that engage policymakers at the national level across sectors to recognize the multi-causality of malnutrition. This has shown a dramatic shift from historic government programming that focused on the simplistic need for more food.


Forty years from the establishment of the National Nutritional Support Office, Peru has participated in consultations about the Sustainable Development Goals and has designed decentralized programming that at least seeks to target the most vulnerable populations to overcome nutrition barriers related to equity (Benavides et al., 2016). It is yet to be seen whether Peru will shift their current “food aid” programming to align more closely with values of sustainability in terms of community empowerment and environmental protection in production under the new government. However, with shifts in governance changing towards global trends in non-communicable diseases and improving commodity markets, Peru must resist the urge to follow governance trends entirely and continue to “leave behind” the vulnerable populations that have not yet been beneficiaries of the country’s fast-paced economic and social development. While participation in agenda-setting at the global level is important, Peru must focus on translating the values and ambition of global targets to eradicate malnutrition into tangible actions to address the contextual needs of local communities in achieving sustainable food security.

Acosta, Andres Mejia (2011). “Analyzing Success in the Fight against Malnutrition in Peru.” IDS Working Papers. Volume 2011 , Number 367. Accessed Online:
Benavides, Martin et al. (2016). “Measuring the Sustainable Development Agenda in Peru.” Post-2015  Data Test: Country Level Experiences. Lima: GRADE. Accessed Online:
Food Tank (2014). “What We Need to Know About Hunger.” Food Tank. Accessed Online:
International Food Policy Research Institute (2016). From Promise to Impact: Ending Malnutrition by 2030. Washington: International Food Policy Research Institute.
McKeon, Nora (2015). Food Security Governance: Empowering communities, regulating corporations. New York: Routledge.
Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform (2015). “Sustainable Development Goal 2: End Hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” United Nation Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Accessed Online:
World Health Organization (2014). “Indicators for the Global Monitoring Framework on Maternal, Infant    and Young Child Nutrition.” Geneva: World Health Organization. Accessed Online:


The 2030+ Agenda: Peru’s Opportunity to (Truly) Achieve Zero Hunger

Carly Hayes, University of Waterloo (Nexos Comunitarios intern)

2030 seems to be the year that everyone can’t stop talking about. The year, far enough in the future, when we can eliminate poverty, achieve zero hunger, and reduce inequality, among a number of other important, lofty goals. The 2030+ Agenda, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals, took over where the Millennium Development goals somewhat disappointingly left off. The stakes are high, especially for nutrition: the stated goal is to achieve zero hunger in 15 years, and we’re already a year into the challenge.


When looking at the country level, it certainly seems that Peru is up to that challenge. The government of Peru has been praised in a multitude of forums for its commitment to reducing rates of stunting (low height for age) and wasting (low weight for age). Currently, Peru holds the top spot on the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI), primarily due to the political commitment espoused by leaders to tackling this problem through multi-sectoral, multi-departmental approaches. This achievement was based on Peru’s relative commitment to the other countries in the index, measured through Borda scores of commitment to access, availability, and utilization of food and key nutrients. Peru is also listed in the International Food Policy Research Institute’s Global Nutrition Report as the country with the fourth-greatest budget allocation to nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions, at 4.64 percent of general government expenditures, of those 24 countries that provided data.

While these international measurements demonstrate positive progress, geographic inequalities persist, especially for those living in the jungle and High Andean communities such as Cuncani. Data on the malnutrition problem of Cuncani is not easily available, nor consistently collected by municipal of regional governments for reporting. This omission of the poorest communities can skew results positively, and reduce the amount of social resources available for these communities. Further, while Peru has demonstrated such high levels of both political and financial commitment, it is unclear as to whether these commitments are translating into outcomes for the poorest communities. The HANCI  itself is a measure based on the decoupling of commitments from results-based measurements. When we look more closely at the data on budget allocations, we can see that the majority of budget spending focuses on nutrition-sensitive programming, rather than nutrition-specific. These problems highlight a critical factor for achieving true advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals – the development of appropriate and holistic measures of progress. This will require indicators that go beyond increasing Gross Domestic Product to indicators that are culturally relevant and measure impact at the community level. In order to make meaningful strides towards achievement of the SDGs, Peru will need to look inward towards addressing these inequalities and adapting social programs to prevent remote communities from being left behind.


Source: International Food Policy Research Institute Global Nutrition Report, 2016

However, the SDGs represent an important feature that the MDGs lacked – an understanding about the inter-linkages between a multitude of development goals, including those between nutrition, clean water and sanitation, good health and well-being, sustainable cities and communities, and quality education. This feature has long been something that Nexos Comunitarios has built into our hypothesis of change, recognizing how quality education and economic growth depend on achieving good health for all community members, and vice versa. That is why NC has chosen to focus on identifying the root causes of malnutrition, in order to uphold the human right of Cuncani citizens to safe, adequate, and nutritious food that will pave the way for the achievement of future goals, while keeping principles of interculturality and human rights at the forefront of everything we do. It is our hope that with the driving motivation of the SDGs, Peru will continue to be an international example by extending their efforts to the most vulnerable communities.