Vietnam Pledges to Establish a Sustainable Food System

The Vietnamese Government has unveiled a National Action Plan to create a transparent, responsible and sustainable food system in Vietnam by the year 2030.

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Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang speaks at the conference. Photo: VNA
Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang speaks at the conference. Photo: VNA

The fourth Global Conference of the One Planet Network’s Sustainable Food System Programme (SFS Programme) opened in Hanoi on April 24th, gathering more than 300 domestic and international delegates, according to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

In his remarks at the ministerial-level conference, Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang briefed the participants on the national action plan on building a transparent, responsible, and sustainable food and foodstuff system by 2030. This plan is designed to transform Vietnam into a reliable producer and supplier of transparent, responsible, and sustainable food products.

Vietnam has declared its willingness to share its experience and collaborate with other nations in the fields of agriculture and rural development, and has expressed a desire to receive more assistance from them in the days to come, the official stated.

The Deputy Prime Minister (PM) highlighted the alarming findings of a report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), which revealed that the total number of people suffering from hunger worldwide has skyrocketed to a staggering 828 million in 2021. Even more concerning is the fact that the Asia-Pacific region is far behind in its progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, with an estimated 35 additional years of effort needed to reach the target – in 2065.

“It is imperative that we take immediate action to safeguard the planet – our shared home,” Quang emphatically declared.

Delegates at the conference. Photo: VNA
Delegates at the conference. Photo: VNA

Estrella Esther Penunia, the Secretary General of the Asian Farmers’ Association, highlighted that numerous natural disasters, climate change, epidemics, and political conflicts have had a devastating effect on the lives of households, leading to a doubling or tripling of food prices. This has made it especially hard for people living in rural areas to obtain nutrient-dense food.

She proposed that nations incorporate sustainable development into their policymaking processes and take measures to guarantee the availability of seeds, technology, and technical assistance.

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu has underlined the pressing necessity of transforming the global food system into a more efficient, holistic, manageable and sustainable one, noting that this necessitates the concerted efforts of all nations.

The conference, which will last until April 27, will explore the barriers and issues related to the transformation of the food system, and present potential solutions. It will focus on the models and the global architecture of the food system, national and local policies for governing the food system, production and consumption models, and methods for food system transformation.

The One Planet Network (OPN) is an open partnership, chaired by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), that is committed to advancing sustainable consumption and production (SCP) around the world.

The Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) programme is an initiative led by the United Nations (UN) to hasten the transformation of food systems towards sustainability by fostering capacity building, collaboration, and synergy between partners from every level.

At the reception. Photo: VNA
At the reception between Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and a delegation of leaders of agriculture ministries attending the fourth Global Conference of the One Planet Network’s Sustainable Food System Programme. Photo: VNA

The same day, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh hosted a reception in Hanoi for a delegation of leaders of agriculture ministries attending the fourth Global Conference of the One Planet Network’s Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) Programme.

Amid unfolding world events, Vietnam has prioritised the maintenance of macroeconomic stability, controlling inflation, and promoting economic growth and social welfare. This includes securing a balance of food production and exports. Additionally, Vietnam is restructuring its agricultural sector to increase added value and promote sustainable development, transitioning from agricultural production to agricultural economic development.

According to the Prime Minister, agriculture is a major source of livelihoods for over 60% of the rural population, and it accounts for 30% of the nation’s workforce and nearly 12% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Vietnam has undergone a remarkable transformation in its agricultural sector in recent years, from being a country largely dependent on food imports to becoming one of the world’s foremost exporters of agro-forestry-fisheries. Last year, the total export turnover of these products was over USD 53 billion, demonstrating just how far the country has come in its agricultural development.

He proposed that developing countries strengthen the effectiveness of the South-South cooperation, in which Vietnam is eager to share experience and collaborate with other countries to promote agriculture and rural areas, eliminate hunger and alleviate poverty, and ensure food security with the assistance of bilateral and multilateral international partners.

The host proposed creating mechanisms to draw in investment, undertake research and technological application, particularly post-harvest technology, prioritize high-quality personnel training, and forge stable global supply chains based on mutual respect and sharing. Additionally, assist developing countries in transitioning their food system towards green, clean, organic, and circular agricultural development.

Leaders of agriculture ministries and the Executive Director of Grow Asia, Beverley Postma, have praised Vietnam for organizing the conference despite the looming threat of a global food crisis caused by the disruption of the global supply chain.

They praised Vietnam’s dedication and objectives in transforming its food system to be healthy, sustainable, resilient to climate change, and all-inclusive.

Agreeing with the proposals of the Vietnamese Prime Minister, they pledged to report to their respective leaders in order to strengthen cooperation and expressed their hope that Vietnam would send experts to their countries to share their knowledge and experience in ensuring food security and promoting agriculture growth, particularly in the production of rice, coffee, and seafood.

Hannah Nguyen