- About the Nutrition Accountability Framework
- The Nutrition Action Classification System
- SMARTness and the NAF
- The SMARTness of nutrition commitments
- The Nutrition Action SMARTness Index
- Assessing the SMARTness of nutrition commitments
- Commitment data cleaning and standardisation
- Developing the NAF Platform's Commitment Registration Form
- A guide to the NAF Platform's Commitment Registration Form
- How NAF commitments are verified
- A glossary of terms
- Authors, contributors, acknowledgments and funding
- Nutrition Accountability Framework and other commitment registers
As emphasised by the Global Nutrition Report (GNR), SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) nutrition commitments ensure focus and accountability in actions for nutrition. The UN Decade of Action on Nutrition advocated that governments work with SMART goals to achieve effective, sustainable changes, and improve global nutrition targets initially by 2025, recently extended to 2030. The need for trackable SMART nutrition commitments has been long emphasised as critical to monitor and report on how they translate into impact, and is increasingly being recognised as essential for accountability. SMART criteria have been used for the qualification of commitments in other contexts, yet their inclusion as a qualifying criterion in the context of nutrition, and in particular for commitments made in the Nutrition Year of Action, is novel.
The key aim of the independent global Nutrition Accountability Framework (NAF) is to ensure that all nutrition commitments made in the Nutrition Year of Action and beyond are SMART. This chapter provides an overview of the nutrition commitment qualification metrics, with a focus on defining and assessing SMARTness.
The GNR scores the SMARTness of commitments and calculates that using the Nutrition Action SMARTness Index. You can read more about SMARTness scoring and the Nutrition Action SMARTness Index on other pages.
SMART criteria are used to develop specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals
Initially developed as a tool to formulate effective management goals, SMART criteria are frequently and increasingly being used by decision-makers to help them identify what programmes hope to achieve. The application of SMART criteria in the formulation of nutrition commitments ensures that the type of the commitments (such as financial, policy or impact), their goals and their expected outcomes are clearly articulated. This makes commitments easier to classify and monitor, and makes it possible to measure impact and demonstrate success.
Our approach to defining and assessing SMART nutrition commitments builds upon and expands our previous work (the 2016 Global Nutrition Report, previous N4G Commitment Registration Guide). To facilitate the formulation and assessment of SMART commitments, we have identified a set of commitment ingredients (defined as the individual characteristics that describe each of the SMART aspects), and mapped these to each of the five SMART aspects, as detailed in the sections that follow. These ingredients form the basis of the NAF Platform's Commitment Registration Form, and are captured by standardised data fields to ensure consistency and transparency in reporting (see A guide to the NAF Platform's Commitment Registration Form).
The 20 ingredients essential for a nutrition commitment to be considered SMART
The following criteria are used to assess whether nutrition commitments meet the requirements to be considered SMART:
Each commitment should identify a specific measurable goal, or multiple measurable goals, to ensure it can be tracked. Each goal should define what the accountable stakeholder is committing to achieve. The goals should be nutrition-related (either nutrition-specific or nutrition-sensitive), for example: to reduce stunting in children under 5 years of age, invest a given amount in nutrition-sensitive interventions and, in particular, in the sectors of health and agriculture; or to establish a regulatory body for nutrition. The measurable goal(s) are used to track and assess progress made towards the commitment. Such goals must align with context-specific priorities (specific to a country, sector or organisation, for example) and should address its needs, including specifying the action plan, geographical coverage (setting) and target population.
‘Specific’ identifies and defines the following ingredients for the commitment:
- The stakeholder accountable for achieving the commitment and reporting on its progress annually, including the stakeholder group (e.g., government, donor, private sector, civil society organisation) that best describes it. If this is a joint commitment made on behalf of multiple stakeholders, the names of each additional stakeholder are specified.
- The number and description of the measurable goal(s) of the commitment.
- The type (action category) of each goal. Nutrition for Growth (N4G) commitments will be classified using the types introduced in the N4G commitment-making guide, and re-classified using the comprehensive GNR nutrition action classification system introduced in The Nutrition Action Classification System.
- The action plan that will be followed to achieve each goal. The action plan represents the ‘road map’ for reaching the goal of the commitment and ensures that possible pitfalls and challenges are identified.
- The geographical coverage of each goal, such as global, regional, national, or subnational, including any additional specifications, for example names of geographical areas covered or if focused on geographic areas with a given characteristic (such as high prevalence of a given form of malnutrition, low income).
- The target population of each goal, including population coverage (sample size and/or percentage of overall population covered). Additional specifications include whether the approach adopted to reach the population of interest varies by key population characteristics, for example by age, gender, income, location, ethnicity, education or disability.
Each commitment should state clearly the indicators to be used to measure progress on meeting the commitment, taking into consideration available established indicator frameworks and building on those frameworks as appropriate. Quantifiable indicators are easier to monitor and should indicate the baseline and end-line, including interim milestones where relevant and whenever possible. The monitoring and evaluation of the indicators by national information systems (e.g., surveys) should also be stated.
‘Measurable’ identifies and defines the following ingredients for the commitment goal(s):
- The primary indicator used to measure the commitment goal, assess and report on its progress, including its unit (if applicable).
- The baseline, including the baseline level (using the same unit as the indicator) of the indicator and the year this is assessed (e.g., through a survey). The baseline year should be as close as possible to the starting year of the commitment (see Time-bound aspect below).
- The interim milestone(s), specifying whether interim targets are set to be achieved within the commitment period, including the interim level (using the same unit as the indicator) and the year this is aimed to be achieved.
- The end-line, including the end-line level (using the same unit as the indicator) of the indicator to be achieved by the end of the commitment period (see Time-bound aspect below).
- The monitoring and evaluation plan, which describes the relevant plan that will be used to collect data on the indicator and measure its progress. For example, fruit and vegetable intake (in grams/day) may be routinely assessed through national dietary surveys, or the prevalence of stunting may be assessed in demographic and health surveys or other databases or surveys.
- The reporting mechanism, which specifies whether the stakeholder is expected to report on the progress of the commitment goal to an additional – other than the GNR – tracking/accountability mechanism. This ingredient is not used to assess and qualify SMARTness, rather to understand reporting requirements and attempt to minimise reporting and accountability fatigue over time by aiming to coordinate with other reporting mechanisms.
Commitments should, at a minimum, be consistent with the level of progress achieved in the past. They should be as ambitious as possible but mindful of the limits of what can be delivered in a realistic timeframe and with reasonable associated costs. Achievability takes into account the availability of financial resources necessary to cover associated costs and identify the supporting funding mechanism and funder. Achievability can also be assessed by comparing commitment goals against global nutrition target levels, where relevant and appropriate (this assessment will be performed by the GNR).
‘Achievable’ identifies and defines the following ingredients for the commitment:
- The estimated total costs associated with the delivery of the commitment, if known, including accounting for human resources, equipment and infrastructure.
- The financial resources, which identify the funding mechanism (such as private, public and/or internal/self-funded) used to cover total costs, including specifying the funder (organisation’s name) and the extent to which these resources are secured (e.g., absolute amount secured or fully/partially secured if exact secured amount is not known).
Commitments should reflect the nutritional priorities and challenges relevant to the setting (at national, regional or global levels) and target population. These challenges can include sector bottlenecks, such as limited healthcare personnel, and aligning with broader national priorities. Relevance further takes into account potential alignment with global nutrition targets and links with key pledging moments, such as the N4G summit. Relevance can take into consideration other important global public health challenges, such as whether a given commitment goal has been developed to address impacts on nutrition related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘Relevant’ identifies and defines the following ingredients for the commitment:
2. The requirements that the commitment needs to meet to qualify, which may vary by linked event. For example, to qualify as an N4G commitment, in addition to being SMART and agreeing to report on progress to the GNR annually, commitments should align with national priorities and the N4G principles of engagement. Of these requirements, the GNR will verify the self-reported SMARTness, which is facilitated by the standardised and comprehensive registration form. The intention is to work with stakeholders to obtain all the necessary information that will deem the commitment SMART. Additionally, for the N4G summit, the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) will verify compliance of breast-milk substitute manufacturers with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes by 2030, in both policy and practice. The registration and verification of N4G commitments timeline pre- and post-summit is as follows:
- 31 October 2021: Commitment registration soft deadline
- Initial GNR verification (e.g. stakeholder group, commitment type, thematic area).
- ATNI verification (BMS code of compliance)
- 15 November (TBC) 2021: Publication of a commitment registration summary (up to 31 October)
- 7–8 December 2021: Commitment registration deadline and publication of an updated summary (up to 8 December)
- After the Tokyo N4G summit, full GNR verification (including SMARTness) and analysis begin.
3. The thematic area of the commitment, if this corresponds to an N4G commitment.
4. The Covid-19 response, which captures whether any of the commitment goals were developed to address Covid-19-related impacts on nutrition. This ingredient is not used to assess and qualify SMARTness, rather to provide context for specific nutrition-related commitment goals developed as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ideally, commitments should have a realistic timeframe for delivery (achievement), with some commitments having a longer timeframe, and others a shorter one. In all cases, commitments should specify key goals to be achieved within the realistic timeframe.
‘Time-bound’ identifies and defines the following ingredient for each commitment goal:
- The commitment period, specifying the commitment period start and end dates.
Within this section we provide examples of SMART nutrition commitments across the nutrition action categories introduced in the GNR nutrition action classification system (see The Nutrition Action Classification System).
Example of SMART commitment to tackle poor diets and malnutrition in all its forms: [Name of organisation] commits to expand its membership between January 2022 and December 2025 and have more countries join its international collaborative effort for accelerating action on nutrition in [world region]. [Name of organisation] will achieve this through expanding its network and organising relevant events to reach out to multiple governments. Progress will be assessed annually using the internal monitoring system of the organisation and by reporting on the number of countries that have joined the collaborative effort. A total of US$500,000 has been secured to achieve this goal; 40% of this amount has been secured through public funding from the governments of [country 1] and [country 2] and 60% through private funding from [donor organisation].
Example of SMART commitment to tackle poor diets and malnutrition in all its forms: [Donor organisation] commits to invest US$1.2 billion, between 2022 and 2030, in nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive programmes. Of this, US$500 million will be spent on nutrition-specific interventions. This includes a commitment of US$100 million over and above our 2020 spending levels for nutrition and towards the goal of the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) event. Our investment in nutrition-sensitive agriculture programmes will total US$300 million between March 2022 and July 2030, of which US$230 million is over and above our 2020 spending levels. Our investment in nutrition-sensitive health service programmes will total US$400 million between March 2022 and July 2030, of which US$200 million is over and above our 2020 spending levels. The progress towards each of the three goals will be annually reported as disbursement of US$ using internal monitoring systems.
Example of SMART commitment to tackle poor diets and malnutrition in all its forms: The government of [country] commits that by December 2028, all health workers in the country (estimated at 30,000 individuals) will be properly trained on the integrated delivery of nutrition interventions across the life-course through receiving integrated, supportive supervision and mentoring that builds capacity to deliver nutrition interventions across the life-course, and they will receive the relevant certificate after written exams. Progress will be assessed annually using the national records for the number of health workers who have passed the written exam. The total costs have been estimated to be US$300,000, of which 60% has been already secured through private funding from [donor organisation].
Research, monitoring and data
Example of SMART commitment to tackle poor diets and malnutrition in all its forms: The [country] Ministry of Health commits to design and implement, starting in 2024 and on a bi-annual basis until 2030, a national nutrition survey to monitor the dietary intakes and the nutritional status of the overall population. Progress will be assessed annually by reporting the status of preparation and implementation of the survey. The total estimated costs are US$10 million and so far 30% of this has been secured through funding from the donor government of [country].
Example of SMART commitment to tackle poor diets and malnutrition in all its forms: [Private sector food business] commits that, from January 2022 through December 2028, 95% of their packaged confectionary will not contain more than 22g of total sugar and 250kcal per serving. This will be achieved through reformulating these products and using alternative ingredients. The products target 1 billion consumers a year worldwide. Progress will be assessed through monitoring the nutrient profile of all the confectionary products of the organisations and reporting the percentage of confectionary that has achieved the target. The estimated total costs of US$500 million have been fully secured through self-funding.
Example of SMART commitment to tackle poor diets and malnutrition in all its forms: The [country] Department of Nutrition commits to reduce population-level intake of added sugar from 16% energy to less than 10% energy from January 2022 by December 2029, with at least half of that reduction achieved in the first five years. This will be achieved by implementing a mandatory category of ‘specific added sugar’ to reformulation targets for packaged foods and beverages across 15 categories. Progress will be assessed using the National Nutrition Survey conducted every two years. Five million euros have been fully secured by the government (self-funded) to cover associated costs, partially supported via an earmarked sugar-sweetened-beverage tax. Food industry compliance will be assessed through a rigorous monitoring and evaluation plan.
These examples are aligned with the GNR Nutrition Action Classification System (see The Nutrition Action Classification System for details and definitions of nutrition action categories and sub-categories). You can download examples of completed Commitment Registration Forms from the GNR website.
Last updated: 22 September 2021.
International Food Policy Research Institute. Global Nutrition Report – From Promise to Impact: Ending Malnutrition by 2030. 2016 (doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2499/9780896295841).
United Nations. Advancing the Global Nutrition Agenda. 2016. Available at: www.un.org/nutrition/sites/www.un.org.nutrition/files/general/pdf/2-nutrition_decade_flyer_commitments_for_web.pdf; WHO. Global Nutrition Targets 2025: Policy Brief Series. 2014; NCD Alliance. Ambitious, SMART Commitments to Address NCDs, Overweight & Obesity: Make the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition Count for All Forms of Malnutrition. World Cancer Research Fund International, NCD Alliance, 2017. Available at: https://ncdalliance.org/resources/ambitious-smart-commitments-to-address-ncds-overweight-and-obesity
WHO/UNICEF. The Extension of the 2025 Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition Targets to 2030. 2019.
Ismail S, Immink M, Nantel G. Improving Nutrition Programmes: An Assessment Tool for Action. 2005.
NCD Alliance. Ambitious, SMART Commitments to Address NCDs, Overweight & Obesity: Make the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition Count for All Forms of Malnutrition. World Cancer Research Fund International, NCD Alliance, 2017. Available at: https://ncdalliance.org/resources/ambitious-smart-commitments-to-address-ncds-overweight-and-obesity; Fanzo J, Hawkes C, Rosettie K. Global Nutrition Report Guidance Note: Making SMARTer Commitments to Nutrition Action. 2016; FAO, WHO. Towards Country-Specific SMART Commitments for Action on Nutrition. 2016.
See for example: Sustainable Development Goals Partnerships Platform. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/partnerships/. Accessed 20 August 2021
Nutrition for Growth. Commitment-Making Guide. 2021.
Doran GT. There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Manage Rev 1981; 70(11): 35–36.
FAO. Integrating the Right to Adequate Food in National Food and Nutrition Security Policies and Programmes – Practical Approaches to Policy and Programme Analysis. 2014; CDC. Evaluation Guide – Developing and Using a Logic Model. 2017. Available at: www.conservationgateway.org/ConservationPlanning/partnering/cpc/Documents/CDC_LogicModelGuide.pdf; Ross MM, Kolbash S, Cohen GM, Skelton JA. Multidisciplinary treatment of pediatric obesity: Nutrition evaluation and management. Nutr Clin Pract 2010; 25(4): 327–334 (doi: 10.1177/0884533610373771); CDC. Evaluation Guide – Writing SMART Objectives. 2013. Available at: www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/docs/smart_objectives.pdf
CDC. Evaluation Guide – Writing SMART Objectives. 2013. Available at: www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/docs/smart_objectives.pdf; Michigan Nutrition Standards. Smart Goal. 2012. Available at: www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/15._Smart_Goals_392707_7.pdf
Michigan Nutrition Standards. Smart Goal. 2012. Available at: www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/15._Smart_Goals_392707_7.pdf; CDC. Writing SMART Objectives – Evaluation Briefs. 2018. Available at: www.cdc.gov/
Nutrition for Growth. Commitment-Making Guide. 2021.
Coverage Monitoring Network. Formulating a Strategy & Action Plan. 2021. Available at: www.coverage-monitoring.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Formulating-a-Strategy-Action-Plan-Training-Pack-Step-1.pdf
WHO. Global Nutrition Targets 2025: Policy Brief Series. 2014.
WHO. Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013–2020.
Requirements may vary by linked event. The GNR is not responsible for assessing compliance with such requirements, unless specified.
Nutrition for Growth. Commitment-Making Guide. 2021.
Access To Nutrition Initiative. Global Access to Nutrition Index 2021. Methodology, Development, Structure, Scope, Contents, Scoring and Results Presentation. 2020.
Stakeholders are encouraged to register their nutrition commitments with the GNR’s Nutrition Accountability Framework by 31 October 2021. The date of the Tokyo N4G summit will be the hard deadline to register and accept commitments for the Nutrition Year of Action. For commitments registered by 31 October 2021, the GNR will perform a basic level of verification, including verifying the self-reported stakeholder group, commitment type and thematic area. The Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) will verify compliance of breast-milk substitute manufacturers with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. For commitments registered after 31 October and by 8 December 2021, no verification will be performed in time for the Tokyo summit and so these commitments may not be featured in the summit. All registered commitments will be included in the Compact (Annex), the outcome document of the summit. After the summit, the GNR will begin the full verification (including for SMARTness) and the analysis of commitments made during the Nutrition Year of Action. During that period, the GNR will engage with commitment-makers to refine the level of information provided, as needed, and ensure to the extent possible that all commitments are SMART. The commitments and their analyses will be published on the GNR website and as part of a GNR report on the Year of Action to be released in 2022. Thereafter, progress on the commitments will be reported, assessed and published annually. The registration form will remain open for stakeholders to make nutrition commitments when they want (not linked to the Nutrition Year of Action or the Tokyo N4G summit).
Nutrition for Growth. Commitment-Making Guide. 2021.