Vietnam hosts Ministerial meeting boosting South-South Cooperation in food systems transformation

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Asian farmer harvesting fresh organic vegetable in local farm at countryside.

Senior agricultural officials from the Americas, Africa, and Asia, as well as representatives from international organizations recently convened in Hanoi, Vietnam, to discuss the need for greater South-South cooperation in transforming food systems to make them more sustainable. The Inter-Regional Ministerial Roundtable, attended by over 40 delegates, highlighted digitalization, innovation, sustainable investments, and gender policies as valuable areas for mutual collaboration.

The meeting, titled “Inter-Regional Ministerial Roundtable on Digitalization and Investing for Food Systems Transformation”, was organized by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Grow Asia, and the Food Action Alliance, in partnership with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam.

Grow Asia, established in 2015 by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is a multisectoral platform aimed at fostering more sustainable food systems in the region. AGRA seeks to transform agriculture in Africa and improve small-scale farmers’ quality of life, while Food Action Alliance is a global network that drives collective action and investment to bolster food system innovation.

During the roundtable, participants emphasized the importance of exchanging experiences in designing and implementing digital solutions, unlocking collective action, and catalyzing investments for food system transformation. The discussion also focused on South-South cooperation and best practices from Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

The event took place within the framework of the Fourth Global Conference of the One Planet Network’s Sustainable Food Systems Program, a four-day conference in Vietnam. The One Planet network is a global community convened by the United Nations to promote sustainable production and consumption, one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established as part of the 2030 Agenda.

At the roundtable, participants stressed the need for a roadmap to improve South-South cooperation, offering significant opportunities for countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. They also agreed to exercise their collective leadership in accelerating food system transformation and ensuring that the agriculture sector’s voice is heard in major international forums on future means of production, such as the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai.

IICA Director General Manuel Otero highlighted the importance of cooperation in addressing climate change, the ongoing socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rising prices of energy, food, and fertilizers due to the war in Eastern Europe. He noted that South-South cooperation is “essentially cooperation among equals” and emphasized the need to build bridges to develop potential in all areas.

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