More than 40 senior agricultural officials of countries in the Americas, Africa and Asia, as well as representatives of international organizations, agreed on the need to engage in greater South-South cooperation to transform food systems and make them more sustainable.
During an Inter-Regional Ministerial Roundtable carried out in the city of Hanoi, Vietnam, representatives of countries of the Global South pointed out that digitalization, innovation, sustainable investments and gender policies are some of the areas that afford valuable opportunities for mutual collaboration.
The meeting, entitled “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 Food Action Alliance, together with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam.
Grow Asia is a multi-sectoral platform established in 2015 by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to foster more sustainable food systems in the region.
AGRA is an organization that seeks to transform agriculture in Africa to improve the quality of life of small-scale farmers.
Food Action Alliance is a global network that drives collective action and investment to bolster innovation in food systems.
The discussion focused on the importance of exchanging experiences in designing and implementing digital solutions and unlocking collective action and catalytic investments for food systems transformation. Special emphasis was placed on South-South cooperation and best practices from Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
The event was held within the framework of the Fourth Global Conference of the One Planet Network’s Sustainable Food Systems Program, which is being carried out over the course of four days in Vietnam.
Among the participants were Beverley Postma, Executive Director of Grow Asia; Le Minh Hoan, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam; Jean Jacques Mbonigaba Muhinda, AGRA Regional Head for East Africa; Jorge Werthein, Special Advisor to the Director General of IICA; Adam Gerstenmier, Executive Director of the Food Action Alliance; and Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labor of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
IICA Director General Manuel Otero joined the discussions by way of a pre-recorded message. Also participating were the ministers of Agriculture of Malawi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Cambodia and Ghana.
The One Planet network is a global community of professionals, public policymakers and experts, convened by the United Nations to promote sustainable production and consumption, which is one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the international community as part of the 2030 Agenda. The Vietnam conference is exploring courses of action to address the multiple crises affecting humanity, through the development of sustainable, resilient, healthy and inclusive agrifood systems.
The ministers who attended the Conference in person were met by the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Pham Minh Chính.
The participants in the roundtable discussion pointed out the need to create a roadmap to improve South-South cooperation, as it offers a great opportunity for countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas.
They also agreed to exercise their collective leadership to accelerate the transformation of food systems and to ensure that the voice of the agriculture sector resonates in the major international discussion forums on future means of production. One example is the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), which will take place in Dubai at the end of the year.
IICA Director General, Manuel Otero remarked that, “Cooperation is called for more than ever, in order to tackle the crises arising from climate change, the persistent socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in the prices of energy, food and fertilizers as a result of the war in Eastern Europe. South-South cooperation is essentially cooperation among equals and that is what we are and what we support. In essence, it entails building bridges to enable us to jointly develop our potential in all areas”.
“That is why we are prioritizing these inter-continental discussions”, he added.
SOURCE: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour