Global leadership for nutrition: the UN's Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN) and its contributions

Global leadership for nutrition: the UN's Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN) and its contributions

The UN’s Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN) has been functioning for more than 30 years. The SCN fulfils many different functions according to those who work within its structure, there having been many formal efforts to define what it does. But since its inauguration in April 1977, taking over from the UN’s Protein Advisory Group, it has provided a forum for debate, sharing of experiences and reaching of consensus on how to reduce undernutrition and other damaging nutrition problems. The SCN is a ‘big tent’ comprising UN agencies, governments, academia and civil society, exchanging information, networking and informal harmonisation of activities. It has provided a valuable series of publications in the work areas of its constituents, as well as the authoritative Reports on the World Nutrition Situation, and its continuing publications of SCN News and Nutrition in Crisis Situation Reports. It has provided a scientific forum to resolve some of the more contentious nutrition issues. Over its 30 plus years of activities, the SCN has sometimes been a contentious body. But nutrition and the actions needed to resolve its problems require a broad range of activities and actions, across different disciplines and types of actors. The main constituents have strongly held and often divergent views. This history records the ups and downs of the SCN and shows where it has been able to proceed with consensus and where it has not. The history also provides an inventory of SCN activities and timeline, its publications and public events. Although the importance of nutrition in development has not been given the prominence it deserves, there is considerable current interest, and it is hoped that this history will help constructively in this current examination of the international nutrition landscape. Keywords: UN agencies; nutrition; policy coordination; bilateral donors; NGOs; reporting of research and field experiences.