Vietnam holds first national dialogue in the lead-up to the UN Food Systems Summit 2021

Around 130 leaders, researchers, investors, government, and private sector representatives in Vietnam gathered in Hanoi and joined virtually to identify solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the food systems of the country. The feedback from the national partners will be reported to the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit in September to strategize the actions for positive change in agri-food systems to realize the Sustainable Development Goals.

The United Nations Secretary General has called for the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit that will focus on levers and pathways to shape food systems nationally and globally to accelerate progress in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Summit 2021 is planned to be essentially participatory and consultative and will focus on 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.

Ahead of the UN Summit, state members will participate in the preparation process by encouraging action-oriented dialogues, discussing ways to realize sustainable food systems with two planned dialogues at national level, and three dialogues at regional levels that will take place in June and July 2021.

Vietnam’s diverse food systems are facing many challenges. Global climate change forecasts and reality in recent years show that Vietnam is one of the countries most heavily affected by the changing climate. Vietnam needs to take specific actions to promote cooperation, synergizing with external forces, to support the formation and development of smart and resilient food systems, ensuring food safety. Food security and nutrition are important not only for nearly 100 million Vietnamese people but also contribute to ensuring world food security, especially in the context of the complicated development of the COVID-19 pandemic. The central role of food systems transformation in the effort to achieve all of the SDGs by 2030 is increasingly recognized.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is convening the ministries of Health, Environment and Natural Resources, Trade and Industry, and Planning and Investments, along with the United Nations Office in Vietnam and various development, research, and academic institutions to a series of national and sub-national dialogues to identify pathways to a more sustainable and resilient food systems by 2030.

In the first national dialogue held 15 June 2021 in Hanoi, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Le Quoc Doanh, stated that these dialogues will help consolidate ideas and innovations that contribute to food security, safety, and nutrition in the country—and overall food systems transformation to achieve the SDGs. He noted that the Food Systems Framework of the United Nations offers a multi-sectoral, multi-level cooperative approach and is consistent with many of Vietnam’s current action programs such as the Agricultural Restructuring Plan to 2025, the National Target Program on Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Social Security 2021–2025, the Program for Each Product for Each Commune, National Action Program for Zero Hunger in 2025, and the National Nutrition Strategy.

From left: National curators including Rodd Dyer, national consultant, Truong Thi Tuyet Mai, deputy director, National Institute of Nutrition and Dao The Anh, vice president, Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, chair the first national dialogue in Hanoi (photo credit: ILRI Chi Nguyen).

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and other CGIAR centres in Vietnam are participating and contributing to this dialogue and a series of MARD-convened dialogues at national and regional levels.

At this national dialogue, Fred Unger, ILRI’s regional representative for East and Southeast Asia, said ILRI’s research portfolio, implemented under the One CGIAR vision, will ‘provide evidence-based solutions to some of the pressing issues facing Vietnam’s food systems, such as access to safe and nutritious food and climate change.’ He added that ‘this research will also include South-South knowledge exchange across regions.’

In this first national dialogue, partners discussed the following key issues in Vietnam’s food systems under the UN five action tracks: Opportunities, solutions and key actions to transform the food systems towards a more responsible, transparent and sustainable direction by 2030.

In July, CGIAR will host an independent dialogue to raise awareness of stakeholders in the National Food Systems Dialogue about the potential contribution of CGIAR to achieve responsible, accountable, sustainable and resilient food systems in Vietnam. The dialogue will also seek to facilitate conversations with partners 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 policymakers, for achieving sustainable and resilient food systems in the country.