Global Agriculture

UN Statistical Commission Approves the Creation of Standalone Food Security and Nutrition Domain

04 March 2024, New York: The United Nations Statistical Commission, has approved the creation of a new statistical domain on food security and nutrition statistics, marking the first time the highest standard-setting body in the international statistical system incorporates those topics alongside its existing focus on national accounts, population statistics, agriculture, big data and other themes.

The decision will bolster ongoing efforts by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on the development and harmonization of food security and nutrition (FSN) data and statistics. With the creation of this new data domain, the three organizations will appear in front of the UN Statistical Commission every two years to report on the state of FSN data, and support the Commission in establishing and implementing a common agenda to advance work in the area in the coming years.

While those three agencies, along with other UN organizations, member countries and various other institutions, have long worked on and with food security and nutrition data, the world can benefit from further work to solidify existing definitions, methods and recommendations and address important gaps with member states to properly assess the state of food security and nutrition at national, regional and global level

“This is a very important step in consolidating a more systemic approach and commitment to food security and nutrition, which are central to the mandates of FAO, UNICEF and the WHO. It generates a powerful space for dialogue, discussion and technical debates on the data needed for effective policies and actions between country members and UN agencies,” José Rosero Moncayo, FAO’s Chief Statistician and Director of Statistics Division, Joao Pedro Azevedo, UNICEF’s Chief Statistician and Stephen Mac Feely, WHO’s Director of Data and Analytics, said in a joint statement.

The UN Statistical Commission is an intergovernmental body that brings together the heads of all UN members’ national statistics authorities. It is responsible for setting statistical standards, developing internationally agreed concepts and methods, and implementing them at the national and international level. The decision to add a standalone food security and nutrition domain was prompted by  the three agencies (FAO, UNICEF and WHO) and policy recommendations endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for stakeholders to work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all.

How it works

Data collection efforts on food security and nutrition themes have long been led by FAO, UNICEF and WHO agencies along with a proliferation of other regional and non-governmental initiatives, underscoring the need for validation and harmonization of measurement methods. Broadly speaking, FAO has long provided authoritative data on food insecurity, UNICEF on key nutrition outcomes such as child stunting and diets in children, and WHO on topics related to healthy diets and nutrition.

The implementation of today’s decision will foster a stronger discussion between UN and its members on topics such as closing data gaps that currently exists on food security and nutrition data, strengthening statistical capacities of country members to collect FSN data, foster the use of the existing data for data policy generation and evaluation, and the harmonization of measurement methods.  It will also give a platform to mobilize resources from international donors towards these efforts. FAO, WHO and UNICEF will, working with country members, design and implement an agenda of work aiming to develop and document good practices and guidelines on concepts, methods and statistical standards for food security and nutrition statistics.

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