The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), which is jointly organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) of the United Nations, is being held at the FAO Headquarters in Rome on 19-21 November, 2014. The first Conference was held in 1992.

The goal of the latest intergovernmental conference is to discuss the experiences and results of the past 22 years and to review 21st century food supply and nutrition challenges. Some 170 countries are being represented at the high-level conference, including over a hundred ministers and heads of state, in addition to representatives of non-governmental organisations and the private sector.

On the opening day of the Conference, the delegations adopted the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Plan of Action required for its realisation. The finalisation of these documents was preceded by months of preparation and discussion. The objective of the Rome Declaration and the related Plan of Action is to promote and facilitate healthy nutrition and ensure that everyone has access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food.

According to FAO estimates, over 800 million people in the world are currently starving or suffering from malnutrition. Reducing this number requires wide-ranging international cooperation and a new kind of international development with the involvement of all parties: states, the private sector, science and non-governmental organisations.

The ICN2 Conference relies on ongoing international political processes and contributes to the development of the development programme for the period beginning in 2015. As Co-Chair of the (open membership) UN working group involved in the formulation of sustainable development goals, Hungary is playing a key role in this process. The second goal detailed in the working group’s report concerns children under the age of 5 who are starving or suffering from malnutrition and determines objective that should be met by 2025 with regard to the suitable nutrition of priority target groups: young girls, expectant and nursing mothers and the elderly.

In her speech at the plenary meeting of the Conference, Deputy State Secretary Katalin Tóth spoke about the most important measures introduced by the Hungarian Government within the field of supporting and promoting healthy nutrition, and the practical results achieved, including the fact that Hungary is ensuring that children eat healthy and nutritious local foods at school and in kindergarten through various school nutrition programmes.

In addition to the successful School Fruit and School Milk programmes, as an example of good Hungarian practices Deputy State Secretary Tóth also mentioned the extremely popular Model Canteen Programme, within the framework of which schools, hospitals and retirement homes have been given the opportunity to directly procure locally produced foods. The Model Canteen Programme is becoming increasingly popular among institutions that offer public catering in view of the fact that they are able to provide healthier and better quality foods thanks to the initiative. According to targets, the ratio of organic products within the Model Canteen Programme will reach 30% by 2020, Ms. Tóth added.

The Ministry of Agriculture’s Deputy State Secretary for International Relations said that thanks to the short supply chain, direct procurement from producers is also good for the environment in view of the shorter transport distances required. In addition, the programme also created a market for the products of local farmers, the processing of which contributes to the development of the local economy and increasing employment in rural areas. Promoting local production, processing and consumption also leads to a significant reduction of waste.

Panel discussions on three topics were also organised at the Conference, one of which was the role of healthy nutrition in the development process beginning in 2015. Hungary was invited to make a speech at the meeting; Director-General of the Hungarian National Institute for Food and Nutrition Science Dr. Éva Martos reported on Hungary’s international role within the field.

She also spoke about the results that Hungary had achieved in view of the fact that healthy nutrition is a key part of Hungarian agriculture policy, as confirmed by recent national legislation such as the introduction of the Public Health Tax on unhealthy foods, the new regulations restricting the trans-fat content of foods, or the new regulation that makes healthy public catering compulsory, which will come into force in January 2015. It is important to Hungary the we provide healthy food for everyone, including children, the elderly and people with special nutritional needs; this is in harmony with the objectives of the post 2015 development process and the contents of the Rome Declaration, the Director-General said.

The Milan Expo is also linked to the topic of the International Conference on Nutrition. The next world exhibition will be held by Italy from 1 May to 31 October 2015 with the motto “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life", the main topics of which is healthy nutrition, environmental protection and conservation, and sustainable development. Hungary is handling preparations for the Milan Expo as a priority, and promoting healthy nutrition will be an important element at the Hungarian pavilion, called "The Garden of Life".  The three comprehensive topics of the Hungarian pavilion will be: "Healthy Traditions", "Hungary, Land of Water", and "Legacy for the Future".

(Ministry of Agriculture)