WPHN Congress Theme

Knowledge, Policy, Action in the Decade of Nutrition 2016-2025

What is working or not? Where are the gaps? What needs more effort or change?

Today, nearly one in three persons globally suffers from at least one form of malnutrition – under-nutrition, micronutrient deficiency, overweight or obesity – and a large part of the world’s population is affected by diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The impacts of malnutrition on development, society, health and well-being are serious and lasting, for individuals and their families, for communities and for countries. Different forms of malnutrition co-exist – within the same country, community, household or individual.

The root causes of and factors contributing to malnutrition are complex and multidimensional, and include:

  • poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment and low socio-economic status in both rural and urban areas, often aggravated by the impact of conflict, post conflict and humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises, including natural disasters;

  • inequity and inequality, poor infant and young child feeding and care practices, poor sanitation and hygiene, lack of access to education, quality health systems and safe drinking water, foodborne infections and parasitic infestations, ingestion of harmful contaminants due to unsafe food production or preparation practices;

  • new and emerging challenges and trends such as climate change, pressures from population growth, urbanization, changing lifestyles and consumption patterns.

Unhealthy and unsustainably produced food poses a global risk to people and the planet. More than 820 million people have insufficient food and many more consume an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death and morbidity. Moreover, global food production is the largest pressure caused by humans on Earth, threatening local ecosystems and the stability of the Earth system. Current dietary trends, combined with projected population growth to about 10 billion by 2050, will exacerbate risks to people and planet. The global burden of non-communicable diseases is predicted to worsen and the effects of food production on greenhouse-gas emissions, nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, biodiversity loss, and water and land use will reduce the stability of the Earth system.

This knowledge has led to policy and plans for action on a global scale, including:

  • 2014 ICN2-Rome Declaration and Framework for Action to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms

  • 2015- Adoption of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), most of which directly or indirectly impact nutrition.

  • 2016-UN declaration of 2016-2025 as the Decade of Action on Nutrition with 6 Action Areas to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms. The aim of the Nutrition Decade is to accelerate implementation of the ICN2 commitments, achieve the Global Nutrition and diet-related NCD targets by 2025 and contribute to the realisation of the SDGs by 2030.

  • 2019-the EAT Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems recommends scientific targets for healthy diets and sustainable food production that are integrated into a common framework, universal for all food cultures and production systems, that defines a safe operating space for food systems.

  • 2019- The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change: The Lancet Commission report proposes nine broad recommendations to mitigate these three pandemics simultaneously.

2020 is the midpoint of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition. The World Public Health Nutrition Congress 2020 aims to reflect what we know, what policies and actions are achieving change towards global goals and what knowledge, policy and action gaps exist and need more effort. 

Themes for the conference are drawn from the 6 Action Areas for the Decade of Action, with the content reflecting global, regional, national and local level initiatives. Knowledge, policy and actions specific to Australia, SE Asia and Pacific will be a focus, but with emphasis on sharing with and learning from the global community.

Congress Topics / Sub Themes

The four day program is designed to provide lively and productive discussions and contributions from people engaged in public health nutrition. We invite you to submit abstracts related to research, policy or practice under the following Congress topics/ sub themes (see separate document):

  1. Sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets;

  2. Aligned health systems providing universal coverage of essential nutrition actions;

  3. Social protection and nutrition education;

  4. Trade and investment for improved nutrition;

  5. Safe and supportive environments for nutrition at all ages;

  6. Strengthened governance and accountability for nutrition, and

  7. Capacity development for public health nutrition.


Cross-cutting streams will focus on Students/early career, indigenous issues, advocacy, government and policy leadership, and capacity development for public health nutrition.

Congress Objectives

The overall objectives of WPHN Congress 2020 are to:

  • Facilitate international information sharing and cooperation, and the further development public health nutrition;

  • Create an environment for knowledge sharing, collaboration and relationship building that supports a ‘global public health nutrition community’.

Specific objectives of the conference are to:

  • To inform key policy makers, practitioners and researchers of the latest evidence regarding the prevalence of both under nutrition and ‘over-nutrition’, as well as the associations between nutrition and disease, the drivers of malnutrition in all its forms and what policies and programmes are appropriate, effective and equitable.

  • To positively influence the right to healthy food and nutrition and public health policy landscape in Australia, SE Asia and Pacific by bringing together global and regional policy makers, researchers and nutrition advocates.

  • To support the effective development and implementation of policies and programs that promote better public health, nutrition, and healthy and sustainable food systems as well as the control of communicable and non-communicable diseases and obesity.

  • To highlight the urgent nutrition and food security challenges in the region by bringing together the necessary expertise and to foster an effective interaction between leading activists, academics, researchers, practitioners and policy makers.

  • To strengthen capacity for action of the public health nutrition workforce through development of scholarship and networks.

  • To affirm good health and nutrition as a human right through the promotion of ethical principles, including those of transparency, equity, respect and freedom from conflict of interest.

Target Audience

The Congress aims to facilitate global, inclusive and diverse conversations on addressing the gaps in public health nutrition. Attendees will include academics and researchers, policy makers, practitioners and activists who have a significant role in shaping the food and nutrition policy landscape globally as well as in the Australia, SE Asia and Pacific regions. The conference is also expected to enhance collaboration among professionals engaged in various sectors such as communicable and non-communicable diseases, nutrition, water and sanitation, dietetics, food sciences, agriculture, economics and environment.