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During the closing ceremony of the SUN Global Gathering (SUNGG17), the SUN Movement Coordinator, Gerda Verburg, presented the “Message from Abidjan” to the Vice President of Côte d’Ivoire, His Excellency Daniel Kablan Duncan, on behalf of the SUN Movement, for the Vice-President to share with African and European Heads of States at the upcoming African Union-European Union Summit in Abidjan 29-30 November 2017.

The central theme for the African Union-European Union Summit, which is taking place in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire from November 29 -30, is “Investing in Youth for a Sustainable Future”, focusing on how to create opportunities for Africa’s growing young population. As discussed during the three days of the #SUNGG17, good nutrition is the starting point and the foundation of a sustainable future. With the right nutrition, children and youth can develop to reach their full potential, healthy and equipped to succeed in school and at the workplace.

The “Message from Abidjan” emphasizes the critical importance of functional and healthy food systems and nutrition for a sustainable future in Africa. Malnutrition is currently hampering human and economic development, with 59 million African children stunted, while overweight, obesity and chronic diseases are increasing, creating a double burden of malnutrition. Nutrition is essential for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, particularly to reach targets relating to health, education, employment, women’s empowerment, reduction of poverty and inequality and the promotion of peaceful societies.

Scaled up investment in nutrition is urgently needed and it cannot wait, since poor nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can have irreversible negative effects on children’s brains and bodies. The “Message from Abidjan” reiterates that “improving nutrition is a smart investment: one dollar yields 16 dollars in return, boosting economic development by 10 per cent or more”.

For the first time, the SUN Movement Global Gathering has taken place in a member country of the SUN Movement, and specifically in an African country, Côte d’Ivoire. In 2017, 39 of the 60 member countries of the SUN Movement are African, showing the growing momentum for addressing malnutrition across the African continent.

The “Message from Abidjan” encourages African and European leaders to place nutrition at the heart of sustainable development and translate commitments into concrete results, to implement effective interventions at scale to end malnutrition, leaving no one behind. Ending malnutrition requires political commitment, large-scale investments in sustainable and nutrition-sensitive food production and consumption, and coordinated implementation of multisectoral interventions. All stakeholders, African, European or international Governments, the United Nations, civil society, business and academia, are invited to work together to eliminate malnutrition in Africa.

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This article originally posted on Scaling Up Nutrition's website

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