Stronger collaboration towards sustainable food systems in Vietnam
In preparation for the United Nations’ Food System Summit (UNFSS) in September 2021, the Government of Vietnam organized a series of events in June and July 2021 to identify solutions to some of the most pressing issues confronting Vietnam’s food systems.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), together with CGIAR and other international organizations and other relevant sectors, discussed the UN’s five action tracks related to safe and nutritious food, sustainable consumption patterns, nature-positive production, advance equitable livelihoods, and resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress.
Ideas and innovations
In the first national dialogue held in June, MARD Vice Minister Le Quoc Doanh stated that these dialogues aimed to consolidate ideas and innovations that contribute to food security, safety, and nutrition in the country and to the overall food systems transformation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He also emphasized the adverse impacts of climate change, and the global pandemic, on the agriculture sector and to the whole food system.
In light of this, opportunities, solutions, and actions to transform food systems towards transparency, responsibility and sustainability by 2030 were discussed. One of the initiatives and best practices showcased during the event was the Climate-Smart Maps and Adaptation Plans (CS-MAP) developed by the Department of Crop Production (DCP) and CCAFS Southeast Asia.
Mr. Le Thanh Tung, the Vice Director of DCP, introduced how participatory risk mapping and adaptation planning has become a successful tool in mitigating the impacts of drought and salinity intrusion in rice production in the Mekong River Delta. Mr. Tung shared how CS-MAP can contribute to sustainable food systems by building resilient farming systems, promoting responsible use of natural resources, and ensuring regional and global food security.
One of the panel discussions in the CGIAR-led Food System Summit Dialogue. Photo: Chi Nguyen, ILRI
Challenges and opportunities
Following this national level event, the CGIAR centers working in Vietnam organized an independent dialogue on 1 July 2021 to bring together key people from government agencies, academia, NGOs, donor agencies, and the private sector to help address existing and emerging challenges and opportunities in Vietnam's agri-food systems and inform policies and investments. The dialogue also aimed to facilitate conversations with stakeholders to identify the way forward on how CGIAR and partners can work together to better address the needs and priorities identified by national partners and policy makers for achieving sustainable and resilient food systems in the country.
During the dialogue, the participants described the problems, challenges, and gaps that need to be addressed in Vietnam food systems, such as: inconsistency among national and local policies, complications in policy implementation, mislabeling of foods, difficulty with assessing healthy and safe foods, unbalanced nutrition, unsustainable supply chain operation, low awareness of people on food safety and nutrition, climate change and environmental pollution, and the invisible role of minorities and women in the society, among others.
To address these issues, the participants identified opportunities, solutions, and types of support needed from CGIAR, such as:
- using innovations and technologies applied across the entire food system, including labelling, traceability, food safety, product quality, and e-commerce;
- providing insights in legal framework and policy implementation to support or control sustainable/un-safe production;
- funding distribution chains to be effective;
- addressing environmental protection; and
- gender equality and social inclusion, particularly the most vulnerable groups affected by shocks and stress.
In the second dialogue held on July 16, Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh stressed that Vietnam is deeply committed and aware of the need for close coordination among nations and sectors in the food system in order to create transformative change and achieve SDGs.
He emphasized that such coordination will help Vietnam perform better in poverty reduction and in ensuring food security and nutrition in rural and ethnic minority areas as well as in vulnerable groups, particularly women and children. Deputy Prime Minister Minh also noted that international cooperation will provide opportunities for Vietnam to develop its key agriculture value chains to become transparent, responsible, and sustainable.
During the event, international organizations, including CGIAR, expressed their support to Vietnam in this endeavor. Dr. Jean Balié, One CGIAR regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, highlighted the One CGIAR’s initiative to secure the agri-food systems in the Asia Pacific Mega-Deltas, including the Mekong River Delta, against sea-level rise, flooding, and salinization. He emphasized One CGIAR’s commitments to support food systems in Southeast Asia through regional integration of initiatives in three potential areas: recovering, resilience, and transformation.