2nd IEG Meeting – Personal Reflections

The 2nd Independent Expert Group (IEG) meeting in Addis Ababa from July 28-29 was a great success. In my opinion, several factors contributed to this. The first, and perhaps most important one, is related to the exciting Global Nutrition Report itself. I think most, if not all, IEG members share the feeling of being very privileged to be part of the development of this inaugural report and are therefore really committed to making it a success. To me, the Report, taking stock of the global momentum for nutrition, represents a unique opportunity for a timely new start and a new vision of global nutrition.

We as the IEG have no hidden agendas in our involvement in the Report and we are doing our best to produce a report which serves the entire nutrition community, at the country level as well as at the global level, making every one accountable for what used to be defined as “everybody’s business but nobody’s responsibility”. Among the ways we hope to achieve that is through the inclusion of both over- and under-nutrition issues in rich, middle-income and poor countries. We want to develop a common vision, if not a common conceptual framework, of global nutrition.

The Report aims to help in promoting good nutrition, not just combating malnutrition, clearly making the point that real people are at stake, not just figures and statistics. Another key element is the recognition that the nutrition community definitely has to speak to and to work closely with its “border partners” – health, water and sanitation, agriculture and beyond.

The vision outlined above was inspiration for the meeting itself. It was widely shared and some aspects were developed further by many IEG members. It was really great to gradually feel all of us moving to the same page. Plus, as around half of the IEG members who were present had already met at the 1st IEG meeting in London in June, we started to feel almost like a family.

Thanks to this general sense of solidarity, each participating IEG member had the opportunity to give their opinion on any topic and all points made were taken seriously and respectfully by other members, even when there was some disagreement. The very good mix of backgrounds, professional profiles, skills and cultures of IEG members is also a key factor in the discussions functioning in such a good way. Even though we had a huge task to complete in the two packed days of the meeting, this diversity of expertise actually helped us to view issues from different aspects and achieve agreement on the main points of the Report.

But this could not have been possible without the extraordinary preparation and facilitation of the meeting lead by the Chair and the Secretariat – they did an amazing job: everything was carefully planned, documents and materials were ready, so many data collections and preliminary analyses were performed within a short timeframe, discussions were well oriented and at the same time totally open and inclusive. This was widely acknowledged and appreciated by all the IEG members present.

Finally, I think that taking part in the Global Nutrition Report journey is ‘a once-in-a–career’ opportunity. It gives us the feeling we are moving the nutrition sector forward, and at the same time it gives us great responsibility, making us the first people to be accountable for its achievement and success: truly an exciting challenge!

2nd Independent Expert Group Meeting, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. July 28-29, 2014. 1st Row L-R: Kamilla Eriksen, Tara Shyam, Judith Hodge, Elizabeth Kimani, Lawrence Haddad, Emorn Udomkesmalee, Endang Achadi, Komal Bhatia  2nd Row L-R: Mohamed Ag Bendech, Patrizia Fracassi, Eunice Nago Koukoubou,Yves Martin- Prével, Holly Newby, Rachel Nugent, Arti Ahuja, Rafael Flores-Ayala, Jennifer Requejo

2nd Independent Expert Group Meeting, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. July 28-29, 2014