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Aligning Accountability Initiatives for Better Nutrition Impact

9th March, 2020

This article was co-authored by The Consumer Goods Forum and the SUN Business Network

The aligning accountability initiative aims to analyse the opportunities and challenges related to aligning business accountability for nutrition. In 2019 a report was published by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) to assess the current landscape of business accountability for nutrition and consider ways to improve it.

On 11th February 2020, a workshop hosted by The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and GAIN/SBN presented the conclusions of this analysis and looked at how each of the organisations and companies involved can contribute to better aligned business accountability for nutrition. The participants have been working to support the 2020 Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit (N4G) process and beyond with continued work on aligning accountability.

Key Learnings

During the meeting, GAIN/SBN shared key learnings emerging from over 20 interviews with accountability mechanisms, businesses and business associations, as well as from a review of around 1,000 publicly available pieces of data and 500 commitments focused on the business impact on nutrition. From these key learnings, the following conclusions were made:

  1. Accountability initiatives create peer pressure among companies for better nutrition impact and provide useful information to support companies’ internal decision-making processes.
  2. Accountability mechanisms would benefit from sharing a clearer value proposition; who do they influence, what impact do they expect to achieve, what is their added value compared with other accountability mechanisms.
  3. Efficient impact assessment of the entirety of business actions on nutrition is made easier if internal business accountability systems are aligned (beyond headquarters).
  4. In-depth/granular analysis of nutrition impact is useful and should remain, but nutrition focused assessment can be better framed in the context of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), acknowledging links with the environment, social and labour sectors etc.
  5. Individual reporting of businesses is increasingly done through third party verification (paid rather than independent). Businesses could save resources by using assessments from independent mechanisms instead (when available).
  6. Reporting is clearer and better aligned when regulations are in place, businesses can then share their compliance ratios.

Data Reporting and Collection

The participants went on to discuss how to better align data reporting and suggested a first set of categories and frames for input. Across all areas, they recognised that businesses should follow best practices whenever national regulations are weak or non-existent. Data collection was also on the agenda as attendees welcomed the idea of a common public repository of data on business impact on nutrition, with the data being open and accessible to all. It was agreed that the implementation of this shared platform would be used by accountability mechanisms and to collect additional pieces of data, and accountability mechanisms would consult each other to coordinate their ask for new information.

Commitments

The initiative for better alignment of business accountability in nutrition is designed to achieve key outcomes prior to the new commitment cycle of the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit. The Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) – who co-lead the accountability working group of the N4G process – introduced show of the working group’s key recommendations. It was suggested to make commitments which are SMART and align with: 1) national priorities, 2) the N4G Principles of Engagement and 3) the accountability framework. The meeting participants agreed on the need to have SMART commitments which are effectively reported on.

Next Steps

The participants agreed to remain engaged in the initiative and to support its next steps, which will include the publication of a progress report in October 2020. The expected outline of the October 2020 report is:

  1. Results of the companies and business associations agreeing to use selected global indexes/frameworks
  2. Results of the companies willing to adopt an approach towards fewer and SMART commitments
  3. Details of the repository for public data on business impact and nutrition
  4. Research on the added value of the accountability mechanisms assessing the business role in nutrition.

For more information on accountability mechanisms for nutrition, visit Nutrition Connect.

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