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Remarks at the SUN Lead Group Annual Meeting

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.   We must congratulate the countries, networks and secretariat for all their achievements to date and for the transparent analysis on the way forward.  We must also acknowledge the continuing progress and growth of the movement, and the addition of its newest members.  Speaking on behalf the recently-established UN Network, I will give priority to agenda item number two, although some of my comments are also relevant to other agenda items.

It is clear from the opening presentation that we have achieved some major milestones over the past year.  Indeed, we are fortunate that much foundational work has been completed.  National nutrition-plans are now largely in place.  For the movement to deliver on these plans, substantial long-term, collective effort is required.

Such effort will allow us to consolidate the gains made while accelerating future progress.

Now that the planning is complete, we must focus on the capacity to implement and deliver both nutrition-sensitive and nutrition-specific actions.  For this, costing and financing are critical, to ensure both the quality and sustainability of national action.  We must also consider the development of a catalytic financing mechanism, to ensure that resources are available to fully support the scale-up of activities.

We note that there is good progress on stunting reduction in most SUN countries.  The trend in many parts of Africa, however, is one of stagnation.  We also welcome the increasing attention to fragile and conflict-affected countries, and we ask that full consideration and priority be given to such contexts.  We must remember that children and mothers living in these contexts carry a very heavy burden of undernutrition.

While efforts to improve resilience and prevent stunting within the 1,000 day window have been a primary focus of SUN over the past few years, emergency nutrition preparedness and response should be fully incorporated into both future strategic planning and implementation efforts.

As a lead group, we must focus on the relative importance of different nutrition-sensitive measures.  For example, UNICEF, UNFPA and WFP’s renewed collaboration links nutrition to both antenatal and post-partum care.  This partnership requires specific goals and indicators that are integrated with other platforms.  We aim to perform this work in the context of the existing H4+ alliance.

In addition, further efforts are also required to fully enhance the contribution of agriculture, social protection and early-child development to nutrition.  The United Nations stands ready to work together and to offer value-added expertise in support of national implementing efforts.  The UN Network is both well-placed and committed to assist countries with the provision of technical expertise and normative guidance, operational capacity and broad-field presence, and support to national leadership dialogue.

To respond effectively, the UN system acknowledges that it must widen agency participation while simultaneously providing support that will enable us to act in an integrated and aligned manner—harnessing each agency’s comparative advantage in furtherance of national efforts.  The UN Network will shortly develop and circulate an accountability framework to address this challenge.  Additionally, our agencies will achieve more effective country-level support efforts through improved REACH engagement and greater UN harmonization within the Standing Committee on Nutrition.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your consideration of these points.