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Three things we learnt from the first Civil Society Network assembly

This week saw over 60 members of the SUN Movement’s Civil Society Network (CSN) come together from countries all around the globe in the first ever network-wide assembly to discuss experiences and solutions surrounding the current global food crisis and to create tangible advocacy demands as a network. The discussion was full of ideas and […]

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The SUN CSN to host its first network-wide assembly on global crises

Summary  The Civil Society Network Secretariat (CSNS) plans to organise a series of meetings with CSN Members to come together and share experiences and perspectives on how the global commodity price increases are impacting nutrition in different contexts.  The event on May 25th will be offered as the first of an ongoing series of global […]

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Ukraine conflict highlights the fragility of the global food system and will have damaging impact on nutrition of the most vulnerable, warns SUN Movement’s Civil Society Network.  

Members of the SUN Movement’s Civil Society Network are already reporting food shortages and escalation in prices due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which will have knock-on effects on the state of nutrition globally.   The Russian Federation and Ukraine are among the most important producers of agricultural commodities in the world. Organisations such as […]

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The African Union Year of Nutrition

At their annual meeting in February of 2022, the African Union declared 2022 ‘The Year of Nutrition for Africa’. This is an exciting initiative as it will shine a spotlight on nutrition in Africa and push for greater political commitment on nutrition and increased investment to address the ongoing malnutrition challenges. The AU will strive […]

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Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Network Commitment

This week, actors across the nutrition community including representatives from governments, businesses, academics and members of civil society came together to make bold pledges towards the UN nutrition targets at the Nutrition for Growth Summit.  The Civil Society Network (CSN) is part of Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN), a world-wide Movement to end malnutrition. Our diverse […]

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5 things we learnt from the 2020 Civil Society Annual Survey

Our membership is huge! With civil society presence in nearly 50 countries, we always knew we were a large network. But after gathering the data from this year’s Annual Survey we have discovered that we have an incredible 4212 member organisations in the Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Network (SUN CSN)!1 This number has increased […]

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The SUN Civil Society Network launches its new 5-year strategy!

Why do we need a new CSN strategy? The Civil Society Network 3.0 strategy (2021-2025) constitutes an essential guide to rally all civil society members’ collective efforts behind a strong mission and vision. The CSN 3.0 strategy was designed for the Network by the Network, in alignment with the overall SUN Movement 3.0 strategy. As such, the […]

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Meet the women of the CSN: Victoria Squire

Former National Coordinator, Civil Society Platform Sierra Leone. My work in nutrition I am Victoria Squire, a Seasoned Integrated development project manager, expert facilitator, change agent and accomplished leader with a solid 8 years’ experience managing nutrition and health projects including during emergencies and in the development phase.  I am also knowledgeable about Scaling Up […]

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Meet the women of the CSN: Funmi Akinyele, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer, Food Basket Foundation International (FBFI) My work in nutrition My father, late Professor Isaac Olaolu Akinyele, was the founding Chairman of the Nigerian CSA, the Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) when it was unofficially established in 2013. Unfortunately, he died shortly after that in February 2014. After I returned […]

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Meet the women of the CSN: Victorine Edson ANJARASOA

TAMAFA coordinatrice, Madagascar Je suis coordinatrice de l’association TAMAFA depuis 2003 jusqu’à ce jour. Je suis décidée à travailler sur la nutrition car il y a beaucoup d’enfants victime de la malnutrition chez nous à Madagascar, région Toliara. Stratégie pour élever les femmes au rang de leadership: il faut les responsabiliser et leur apprendre la […]

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Meet the women of the CSN: Beatrice Eluaka

Coordinator of CSS+UNN, Nigeria My work in nutrition I am Lead for the Scaling Up Nutrition’s programming in Nigeria. I perform Country Office Oversight, Country Program Development, Country project /program implementation and Country Program Representation whilst contributing to strategic and operational development and delivery of programs in line with the SUN CSN mandate, strategy and […]

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Meet the women of the CSN: Jane Whyte

Senior MEAL Officer, Nigeria My work in nutrition My name is Jayne Whyte and I work with the Civil Society Alliance in Nigeria as a Senior MEAL Officer. I think women’s nutrition and the role women play in scaling up nutrition is particularly important to me because women and girls are at the heart of development. […]

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Prioritising Youth Voices During the Year of Action for Nutrition for Growth

2021: A year overflowing with opportunities   It’s 2021, and although very little may have changed so far in comparison to 2020 (come on, vaccines!), there has already been a huge shift: it is now officially the Year of Action for Nutrition.   Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in devastating losses to the decades of progress on […]

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Hunger is real, staying home is not so real.

Daniel Ishaku’s COVID-19 story Daniel Ishaku is 16 years old and lives with six of his siblings in a one-bedroom house in an urban slum called Kapwa in Nigeria. Daniel lost his father when he was 4 years old, and his unschooled mother became the primary caregiver. In order to sustain and provide for her […]

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Lessons from civil society resilience as we face COVID-19

“Adapt, Improvise, Overcome – the human spirit will always survive” These are the words of advice a colleague who worked in Ebola affected areas sent to me at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I expected something much more technical and practical. He is right of course. At a certain point, it’s the spirit and […]

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What I’ve learnt from SUN nutrition champions

The SUN CSN Secretariat, along with our West and Central African nutrition champions, Action Contre La Faim, and representatives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have been working hard over the past few months to make sure that our West and Central Africa regional workshop is a resounding success. We are currently in Abidjan facilitating a three-day […]

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13 reasons to be cheerful in 2019

In the UK, 2018 all went a bit Pete Tong. The government said “Thank u, next” to a whole host of Cabinet members. Some of us panicked about the lack of C with our KF. And after hopes were raised, English football fans found it wasn’t coming home after all. Then when I came back […]

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They came, they saw, they conquered: Global Youth Leaders for Nutrition

TUESDAY 6 NOVEMBER 2018 The Global Youth Leaders for Nutrition programme, round 2, took place in Rome last week. Four young people boarded their first-ever international flights and headed for the ‘Leave No One Behind – Making the Case for Adolescent Girls’ conference. The event, hosted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Canadian […]

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TUESDAY 6 NOVEMBER 2018

The Global Youth Leaders for Nutrition programme, round 2, took place in Rome last week. Four young people boarded their first-ever international flights and headed for the ‘Leave No One Behind – Making the Case for Adolescent Girls’ conference. The event, hosted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Canadian Government and Save the Children Italy, was unlike any development conference I had attended before. For one simple reason: the extraordinary youth leaders.

Our job was to ensure the four young leaders we’ve been supporting had their voices heard from start to finish. We began with two-days’ training on advocacy and communications, which Callum Northcote from RESULTS UK and I led.

It’s not often young people’s voices are heard in corridors of power – but these youth leaders clearly left their mark. Not only were they heard, but they were also listened to. The concluding statements from Juliane Friedrich (technical specialist on Nutrition at IFAD) reiterated that:

  • Young people need to be involved from the beginning to the end of events and programmes that concern them. Turns out the nutrition experts need their help too.
  • When young people are involved, they want to be engaged in innovative ways – not through “boring meetings” (their words not mine, though I’m sure they’re not alone in that assessment).

“What’s the Global Youth Leaders for Nutrition programme (#YL4N)?” you ask

It’s a fantastic three-year programme – developed by the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN)Civil Society Network and partners Global Citizen, ACTION, and RESULTS UK – providing support to 13 young campaigners, aged 18–25, from countries with high rates of malnutrition, who have the skills, knowledge and opportunities to help accelerate progress to end malnutrition.

Since the programme kicked off, we’ve held a training workshop in Washington, DC, and the youth leaders have individually been invited to attend high-level panels. For example, 22-year-old Florence Siboma spoke at the United Nations General Assembly.

Why young people?

Young people are innovative, adaptive and savvy. Recent events, such as the 2018 student-led March for Our Lives campaign against gun violence in the USA and the 2010 youth-led protests of the Arab Spring, show how young people are leading change by standing up for what they believe in – as well as the challenges they face.

There has been extensive research on the importance of children’s nutrition in the first 1,000 days. However, there has been a lack of research and investment in adolescent nutrition. According to recent studies, investing in adolescent nutrition (of girls, in particular) would have a highly beneficial impact on not just adolescents themselves, but on economies and societies. It can also have a huge impact on the inter-generational cycle of malnutrition, where malnutrition is passed from mother to child in pregnancy.

My Roman take-aways

Those of you familiar with advocacy work will know we have a habit of attending a lot of events with the same formats that involve a lot of presentations. Second,  we often speak on behalf of children and adolescents.

Last week’s conference was nothing like that. Instead, we had Barsha from Nepal, Manata from Kyrgyz Republic, Niroj from Sri Lanka and Jane from Kenya each delivering speeches – including sharing their personal experiences and stories, an interactive play on child marriage in Nepal, and nutrition-focused panel discussions where they each offered recommendations to the wider delegation.  It was powerful and moving.

So, what can we do?

  • include young people in decision-making processes
  • make sure we’re speaking with young people, not for them. How can we speak on behalf of people without getting their input? And what makes us think we can speak better on their behalf than they can themselves?

As a young person, I’m fortunate to work with an incredible group of young advocates and potential future leaders.  I urge you to look into ways your work can involve those it most affects. I promise you’ll feel inspired.

As Niroj Sudarshan said in his closing remarks, “Children are the future of the world and youth are the heart of the world!”

Mic drop.