Food and nutrition security: towards the full realisation of human rights

Produced by: 
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA)
Available from: 
October 2016
Paper author(s): 
International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG/UNDP)
Topic: 
Agricultural - Natural Resource Economics
Institutions and Development
Year: 
2016

The challenges involved in the realisation of the human right to adequate food and nutrition (HRtAFN), and of food and nutrition sovereignty and security in African countries and in Brazil, comprise different elements— but also share several similarities. While there has been evidence of a significant reduction in hunger and malnutrition worldwide, it is observed that this phenomenon has not occurred at the same pace in sub-Saharan Africa and in some regions of Brazil. At the same time, there has been a rapid increase in the rates of overweight, obesity and related illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiac disease, various types of cancer, etc. The editors of this special thematic issue of Policy in Focus have sought to present readers with a selection of contributing authors and articles that share a holistic interpretation of the HRtAFN. This interpretation reaffirms that its true realisation goes far beyond the mere fulfilment of basic food and nutritional needs but, rather, must incorporate multiple dimensions, such as: i) the self-determination and sovereignty of peoples— which includes access to, control of and participation in decisions about natural resources in their territories; ii) social participation in the elaboration, implementation and monitoring of policies oriented towards food and nutrition security, including decisions about what to produce, as well as how and for whom; iii) the guarantee of physical and economic access to a diverse, healthy and nutritionally balanced diet, free from contamination, which is culturally adequate and locally and regionally produced by smallholder farmers, according to agroecological principles; and iv) the guarantee that every human being may reach their full potential, following the attainment of nutritional well-being, such as a well-functioning immune system, the potential to grow and develop fully, the potential to learn and access the accumulated, collective human knowledge, the potential to reach emotional maturity and to reaffirm their social and cultural identities.

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