IDS discussion papers;390

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

Published on 1 January 2010

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
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.

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies
Longhurst, Richard


Related content