As we trot past the first month of 2020 the world has changed once again as the United Kingdom is now officially outside the European Union following almost four years on the Brexit roller coaster. On the other hand the world is facing challenges like never before from both physical and biological environmental factors manifested as the Australian bush fires and the Wuhan Coronavirus respectively - both equally deadly and just as humbling - a reminder that the forces of nature would always have the last word.
All of these global events and others, largely outwith our control, impact NNEdPro members who collectively are either located in or hail from a total of over 50 countries across six continents. However in all of our interactions I have been deeply impressed by both the resilience of colleagues who are affected as well as the camaraderie of their counterparts which once again highlights the bonds that link us all together as part of a global family. These common connections are underpinned by a shared vision around a better world with a lesser burden due to malnutrition in its various forms and one where the untapped potential of nutrition is fully harnessed for both the prevention and treatment of disease.
Today, as the world stands at the mid point of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition and NNEdPro is fully exploring the role that voluntary regional networks can play in knowledge application in the remaining five years of the decade. To this effect over 2020 we are strengthening as well as expanding the NNEdPro Regional Networks Programme across the globe. This month has seen coordinated activities across multiple parts of India as part of the Cambridge University TIGR2ESS Project and our novel intervention of Mobile Teaching Kitchens within this framework. Despite Brexit, in February we will come closer than ever before to European colleagues through the launch of our regional networks in Switzerland and Italy, followed rapidly by a new regional network launch in Mexico to complement our existing links to Latin America. Beyond this there are plans to break new ground into a number of countries including the establishment of regional network sections spanning Scotland, the island of Ireland, Wales and England to maintain insights into needs within as well as across regions.
Linking together all our regional networks will be a purpose built digital hub - the International Knowledge Application Network Hub in Nutrition 2025 (I-KANN-25) - we expect this to emerge in its first physical iteration by the turn of 2020. Within each regional network, between now and 2025, we seek to facilitate two key initiatives in a sustainable manner:
(1) Strengthening ‘Nutrition Education Policy for Health Practice’ (NEPHELP) to build nutrition capacity within health systems; and
(2) Piloting our Mobile Teaching Kitchens (MTKs) model bringing together education, empowerment and entrepreneurship as a novel intervention to reduce the burden of nutrition and health inequalities in at-risk populations.
Whilst I-KANN-25, NEPHELP and MTKs will be globally unifying initiatives, there will be a plethora of differences in the shape of these models between regions and we are excited to widen our learning through the diversity of insights this work will bring.
Behind programmes and projects are the people who work tirelessly to make it all happen for the potential benefit of the populations we seek to serve. Over the last quarter of 2019 we have carefully refreshed the membership of our think-tank especially at its core and in the new year I have written individually and in groups to all categories of members to reiterate our joint commitments and to thank one and all for their countless inputs. I am delighted that from this edition onward we will be introducing you to individuals in the dedicated NNEdPro Virtual Core which forms the bedrock of all we do.
Finally, we are also looking forward to bringing everyone together once again through our flagship annual summer events at Homerton College at the University of Cambridge and I look forward to seeing many of you at our Summer School, the ‘Confluence’, the International Summit or our Global Strategy Day where we will also explore our role in climate change and sustainability!
Professor Sumantra (Shumone) Ray NNEdPro Founding Chair and Executive Director