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Second National Dialogue toward the UN 2021 Food Systems Summit
Hanoi, 16 July 2021 — Following the First National Dialogue and the three Regional Dialogues in the North, Central Region and Mekong Delta held in June and early July 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD),in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), with support from the United Nations (UN) in Viet Nam, international and national development partners, research institutes, universities, businesses, associations and other stakeholders, organize the second National Dialogue on Viet Nam’s Food Systems towards the United Nations 2021 Food Systems Summit, which is to be held in September 2021[i].
The presence of His Excellency Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister, leaders of various ministries, cities &provinces, socio-political organizations, and development partners, shows that the Government of Viet Nam attaches special importance and high commitment to the transformation and development of transparent-responsible-sustainable food systems in Viet Nam in the context of the «new normal». H.E. Mr. Le Minh Hoan – MARD Minister, H.E. Mr. Kamal Malhotra, the United Nations Resident Coordinator (UNRC) in Viet Nam, and H.E. Ms. Carolyn Turk – World Bank Country Director for Viet Nam, co-chaired this Dialogue.
In his opening speech, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said: “The Government of Viet Nam is fully aware of the need for close coordination among countries and actors in the food systems in order to create revolutionary, sustainable and extensive changes of the whole systems. This will help us do better in the cause of alleviating poverty, ensuring food and nutrition security in the rural areas, especially in the remote or ethnic minorities’ regions, and among the vulnerable groups in a more effective and sustainable manner, with a special focus on women and children. In addition, it is also an opportunity to connect actors both within and outside the food sector to share their experience and jointly develop the value chains of Viet Nam’s key agricultural products toward transparency, responsibility and sustainability”.
Viet Nam’s agriculture plays a particularly important role in ensuring food security, social stability and livelihoods for over 60% of the population living in the rural areas, and contributes 14.85% of the country’s GDP (2020). Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the global climate change and natural disasters, Viet Nam’s agriculture still maintained a growth rate of 2.68% in 2020. The export turnover of agricultural, fish and forest products hit USD41.53 billion in 2020 and 24.23 billion USD in the first half of 2021.
The Deputy Prime Minister also highlighted the important role of digital technologies and innovations in increasing the production efficiency, productivity, food safety and distribution, as well as in connecting producers directly with consumers. In addition, it is crucial to minimize food losses and wastes, and create better resilience of agricultural supply chains, raise awareness and promote green and sustainable consumption as an effective solution to protect the environment and the public health towards sustainable development.
MARD Minister Le Minh Hoan said: “”We need to support the development of equitable and sustainable agri-food value chain by promoting grassroots farmer organization development and diversified public-private partnerships to incentivize private investments for responsible, transparent and sustainable agricultural value chains, which is the key for enhancing coherence and equal benefits among actors in agri-food value chains; Scale up and replicate initiatives of farmer organizations and small and medium enterprises at grassroots level in establishing and strengthening coherence, ensuring transparent and equitable value distribution among agri-food value chain actors, enhancing benefits and health of consumers, reducing carbon emission, and applying 4.0 technologies, etc. in order to optimize the integration of multiple values, including economic, cultural, social, landscape and environmental elements in agricultural products”.
Viet Nam’s diverse food systems are facing many challenges. Global forecasts and empirical data in recent years show that Viet Nam is one of the countries most heavily affected by climate change. Viet Nam needs to take specific actions to enhance cooperation, promote the formation and development of smart, resilient and sustainable food systems, not only ensuring food and nutrition security for nearly 100 million Vietnamese people but also contributing to the global food security, especially in the context of the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Viet Nam today is not only producing sufficient food quantities to feed her nearly 100 million people, but also contributing to ensuring world food security”, said H.E.Mr. Kamal Malhotra, the UN Resident Coordinator. “However, the Vietnamese food systems are also facing critical challenges. Nutritional security remains a dilemma mainly due to unhealthy diets and unsafe food. Environmental degradation due to natural resource depletion and chemical overuse is becoming more and more alarming. The unequal value distribution, inability to attract young workers, lack of market connectivity, and weak supply chain management have reduced the competitiveness of agriculture and food industry. The United Nations in Viet Nam will accompany the Government of Viet Nam, along with other development partners, to further transform the food systems, contributing to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
In her opening speech, Madam Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam said: “The agricultural sector, with its enormous progress over the past three decades, has played a central role in Vietnam’s successes in reducing poverty and maintaining food security and social stability. From not having enough to feed its own citizens, Vietnam has become an export powerhouse of rice, coffee and fish. However, the sector is facing daunting challenges which, if left unresolved, will put the country at risk of not fulfilling the SDGs. First, the sector is the third-largest emitter of GHGs. Second, agricultural production activities are extremely vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. Third, food safety remains a major public health and trade concern. Now is the time for the sector to transform itself into a greener, more sustainable and inclusive one. The World Bank and other development partners stand ready to join forces with the government and the private sector to foster such transformation.”
After the Summit, Viet Nam will develop a Roadmap for Transforming Food Systems to implement and review the suitability of the Food System Framework with a multi-sectoral, multi-level approach to the existing relevant policies and programs. In the implementation process, it is necessary to solicit the cooperation, collaboration and support from all ministries, line agencies, local authorities, development partners, businesses, associations, international organizations, NGOs, scientists, experts, and the public, in ensuring the achievement of socio-economic outputs, including nutritional and health ones, and minimizing the negative impacts on the environment, contributing to the successful roll-out of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Viet Nam’s second National Dialogue aims to: i) share with the participants the discussion results of the previous Dialogues; ii) share the draft on the priorities and implementation roadmap for transforming the food systems in Viet Nam; and iii) call for the attention, cooperation, collaboration and support of stakeholders in the implementation process towards building transparent, responsible and sustainable food systems in Viet Nam.
The Dialogue has attracted many participants, who are representatives of diversified groups of stakeholders, in the relevant discussions.
[i]The UN 2021 Food Systems Summit aims to strategize the actions for the food systems to be more sustainable, more inclusive and more resilient, creating multi-dimensional impacts in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Summit will focus on five (5) Action Tracks, namely: (i) Ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all; (ii) Shift to sustainable consumption patterns; (iii) Boost nature-positive production; (iv) Advance equitable livelihoods; and (v) Build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress.