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

Advocacy, Child Nutrition, Fundraising and Sustainability, Maternal Health, Monitoring and Evaluation, Regional Planning, West and Central Africa, Women's Nutrition, Youth Leaders, Asia, East and Southern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, West and Central Africa

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 CSN Steering Group, the Regional Coordinators, the Civil Society Alliances, the Youth Leaders for Nutrition and the Secretariat all contributed to the development and validation of the content of this document. By bringing their expertise and evidence to the fore, Network members will lead the implementation of the strategy while increasing their sustainability and independence.

Achieving our vision to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030, we have together identified five key strategic objectives which need to be owned by all:

  1. Promote meaningful civil society representation and engagement, especially from the most marginalised, across the SUN Movement and beyond.
  2. Advocate for improved financial, policy and legal action on nutrition, and hold all stakeholders accountable.
  3. Drive sustainability across the CSN by equipping the Network’s structures with the skills and resources they need to deliver on their workplans and address the challenges they face.  
  4. Scale up effective nutrition interventions and sensitisation at community level.
  5. Generate evidence and use it to inform decisions and scale promising interventions.

The objectives are supported and underpinned by four cross-cutting enablers:

  1. Governance
  2. Communications
  3. Youth engagement
  4. Gender equality

What is this third phase all about?

CSN 3.0 is about consolidating learnings, scaling up promising practices, and leaving the Network more sustainable and self‑supporting. In this way, Network members will be equipped with the latest evidence and tools and be empowered to drive change at the national level. We will further promote cross-country learning and technical assistance; embed youth engagement at all levels; provide tailored support to seize relevant opportunities; enhance communications to profile the results achieved; and ensure equitable access to governance and accountability mechanisms at all levels.

What are the challenges and opportunities ahead?  

The launch of this strategy comes at a critical time with the COVID-19 pandemic throwing back years of progress on nutrition, and putting pressures onto already strained health systems, fragile economies, food systems and livelihoods. Additional barriers include humanitarian crises, unsustainable food production and consumption patterns, climate change, political instability, shrinking civic space, gender inequality and other power imbalances.

“Yet responding to these challenges is what drives the Network. We believe that leveraging civil society and young people’s wide-ranging expertise and reach and empowering them to form strong multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder alliances is the best way to address these global issues with a unified voice.”

Hannah Stephenson, Vice-Chair of the Civil Society Network’s Steering Group

The launch of this strategy is also timely as it coincides with the Nutrition for Growth Year of Action when governments and other stakeholders are invited to make sustainable commitments to nutrition. The SUN Movement and the Civil Society Network have made important strides in raising the visibility of nutrition within global and national agendas, and via global mechanisms, such as the World Health Assembly targets, the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition. A growing number of countries have developed national nutrition action plans and allocated specific budget to fund those plans. Despite this progress, we need to accelerate action. There is both an urgency to act fast to protect hard-won nutrition gains, while also drawing on the lessons and investing in the systemic change needed to enable sustainable access to good nutrition and healthy diets, leaving no one behind.

“The CSN 3.0 strategy will facilitate a coordinated civil society response to the challenges and opportunities of the next five years, contribute to generating commitments and lasting results for the most vulnerable, and in turn help consign malnutrition to the history books.”

Christopher Twiss, Head of the SUN Civil Society Network.

What are we looking towards?  

This strategy outlines how we want to move forward for the next five years which is why it has been so important to create it through collaboration with the whole network. The objectives and the cross-cutting enablers touch on topics which are very close to our heart. We know, for instance, that we will never be able to end malnutrition without women and girls. As such, promoting gender equality has always been a priority and, due to its place in the strategy, will remain so for the next five years. Equally, our work with the Youth Leaders for Nutrition has placed the Civil Society Network at the forefront of youth empowerment within the SUN Movement. This is something we will continue to push forward with in the next phase of the movement. This strategy is the result of input and collaboration from the whole network and, judging by the priorities outlined, represents a bright future for the CSN.

“What is different with the CSN 3.0 is that it presents an opportunity to advance the youth agenda by not only highlighting the importance of youth engagement and space, but also by giving direction on meaningful youth inclusion. Youth are important agents of change, and CSN 3.0 intends to strengthen and expand youth engagement to ensure they lead innovative solutions in the nutrition space. The CSN is also committed to taking a lead role in SUN’s objective to enshrine youth leadership across the Movement.”

Mathews Mhuru, Chair of the Civil Society Network’s Steering Group

You can read the full strategy here. Also available in French and Spanish.