Global Agriculture

Inter-Regional Ministerial Roundtable on Digitalization for Food Systems Transformation

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27 April 2023, VN: Ministers responsible for food and agriculture from Viet Nam, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines met at a specially convened inter-regional ministerial roundtable to advance sustainable investment, innovation, digitalization, and gender mainstreaming opportunities in food systems through enhanced South-South cooperation.

The event was co-hosted by Viet Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with Grow Asia and the Food Action Alliance (FAA) on the side lines of the 4th Global Conference of the One Planet Network’s Sustainable Food Systems Programme.

The high-level dialogue was designed and coordinated by leaders from AGRA and the InterAmerican Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and involved the participation of more than forty other senior officials from the global south. The roundtable underscored the need for countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas to establish a visionary framework for SouthSouth Cooperation to drive food systems transformation.

“In order to transform our food systems to make them more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable, we must collaborate across regions, in mobilising resources and other means of implementation, measurement, research and innovation. AGRA is committed to leveraging partnerships such as these to help our food systems overcome existing and future crises”, said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, AGRA President and Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit.

Some specific topics covered at the ministerial roundtable included experiences of successful strategies for driving agricultural digitalization in Viet Nam; and the role of regional guidelines and multi-country interventions in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), which are vital for unlocking catalytic and sustainable investments from the private sector. The convening also discussed progress made in advancing national development frameworks through mainstreaming food systems strategies and business cases in Africa. The meeting heard how such interventions are already improving incomes and livelihoods of small businesses and rural communities, while ensuring food and nutrition security in the context of climate change.

“South-South Cooperation represents a significant opportunity to promote sustainable, inclusive, and resilient food systems across the developing world. By working together, and sharing best practice across three continents, we can scale up solutions to common challenges and empower small rural businesses to play a leading role in climate mitigation. We look forward to ongoing collaborations with our partners in FAA, AGRA and IICA to further amplify our shared vision and values for global food systems transformation.’’ said Beverley Postma, Executive Director, Grow Asia. Recognizing the significant opportunity that a framework for enhanced South-South Cooperation presents for countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, the organizers agreed to use their collective leadership to drive progress on food system transformation on the pathway towards major events that will shape the global food system agenda. This includes the UN Food Systems Stocktake Moment in July 2023, the Africa Food Systems Summit in September 2023, the COP28 in November 2023 and other key milestone moments regionally

and globally. “Every country in the world has considerable room for improvement in their food systems in order to achieve their overall goals for people, planet, and prosperity. Just like we saw during the UN Food Systems Summit, it’s great that developing countries from Africa, Asia, and the Americas continue to play a leading role in embracing a food systems transformation agenda and accelerating progress by deliberately learning from and supporting each other through South South Cooperation.” said Adam Gerstenmier, Executive Director, Food Action Alliance “The deeper the crisis, with this confluence of climate change, the long-lasting economic and social effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and increases in energy, food and fertilizer price due to the war in Eastern Europe, the more cooperation we need. It is a cooperation among equals and that is what we are. That is the essence of South-South Cooperation, in which we strongly believe, because it means building bridges so we can use our potential together, in all areas. That is the reason we prioritize this intercontinental dialogue.” said Dr Manuel Otero, Director General, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture IICA.

To further enhance South-South solidarity, the organizers highlighted the importance of September 12th, the UN’s Day for South-South Cooperation. To mark the occasion, which will coincide with the annual flagship Grow Asia Investment Forum in Singapore, all partners stressed the need to use their substantive reach, partnerships, and connections to continue exploring knowledge sharing opportunities and to scale the impact of their most successful projects through targeted commitments on South-South Cooperation

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