Vietnam has committed to developing a National Action Plan for Transparent, Responsible, and Sustainable Food Systems Transformation (2022–2030). To support the country’s efforts to adopt a food systems approach, researchers from the CGIAR Initiative on Sustainable Healthy Diets through Food Systems Transformation contributed to the development of two technical reports that clarify key food systems concepts, examine the current state of Vietnam’s food systems, and explain the government’s need for a new National Action Plan.
Food systems transformation plays a central role in Vietnam’s efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Over the past 30 years, Vietnam has made great progress in reducing poverty, ensuring food security, and promoting economic growth as well as socioeconomic development.
Yet the country faces many challenges in its path to transformation. Healthy diets remain unaffordable for more than one-quarter of Vietnam’s population, and poor-quality diets are a major driver of malnutrition. The agricultural sector’s continuous growth and strategy of high intensification has caused extensive environmental impacts in recent decades. Vietnam’s agricultural industry is mainly small-scale, and producers face limited labor productivity, with few opportunities to access markets and information and to participate in value chains. Inadequate technological innovations and institutional administration mean that agricultural products do not meet standards for quality and food safety. Consumer knowledge and behaviors on nutrition and environmental sustainability also remain limited.
Vietnam needs to take strong action to ensure that its food systems adapt to the increasingly severe impacts of climate change: use natural resources efficiently and sustainably; reduce environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; strengthen national capacity in an unpredictable commercial environment; and significantly improve and diversify livelihoods and income sources for farmers.
To achieve these goals, Vietnam has been active in learning and exchanging ideas for agricultural development at global policy platforms, as well as building an innovative new agriculture development policy in recent years. At the 2021 UNFSS, the President of Vietnam committed to transform and develop its food system to be more transparent, responsible, and sustainable, meeting food security and nutrition requirements for both domestic and export markets. Recently, the Prime Minister approved the Strategy for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in the Period 2021–2030 and Vision to 2050, which aims to fundamentally change thinking about agricultural development and shift the country towards production systems that are high quality, efficient, and environmentally sustainable.
“Integrating sustainable healthy diets and food systems into the Strategy’s guidelines is crucial to creating a common understanding among all stakeholders and to linking multiple sectors and values to advance an enabling environment for food systems transformation in Viet Nam, including improving diets to contribute to nutrition and health for all.” – Dr. Tran Cong Than, Director General, IPSARD, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
After the Initiative launched its activities in Vietnam in June 2022, Vietnam’s Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD) invited its researchers to contribute to developing guidelines to support the Strategy’s implementation. This publication, which was developed in partnership with various departments under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), aims to clarify and define key concepts and terms related to agriculture and rural development. Previously, views on food security, agriculture, and diets had diverged between different organizations and ministries, with a strong focus on quantity to achieve food security. Sustainable Healthy Diets supported IPSARD to adopt the concept of sustainable healthy diets and to define key food systems terms.
The development of the National Action Plan for Transparent, Responsible, and Sustainable Food Systems Transformation (2022–2030) (NAP) is critical to the Strategy’s implementation. MARD, which is responsible for developing NAP, has convened more than seven technical meetings to prepare the plan, based on input from different departments and Ministries. Other stakeholders, including UN agencies, funders, and NGOs, also participated in consultations. The Initiative’s Country Coordinator has been a key member of the MARD-led technical working group to draft the NAP. The Initiative has also contributed to MARD’s technical report that explains the government’s need for a new plan. The technical report is under review by governmental ministries, but will be submitted to the Prime Minister, along with the NAP, when both are finalized in 2023.
The Initiative’s involvement builds on the legacy of research partnership and policy engagement achieved in Vietnam by A4NH. Sustainable Healthy Diets continues these close collaborations with Vietnamese partners to develop innovative, research-based solutions that address the complex challenges facing the country’s food systems.
- FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO. 2020. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020. Transforming Food Systems for Affordable Healthy Diets. Rome: FAO.
- Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam. 2022. Guidelines for the Strategy for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in the Period 2021–2030 and Vision to 2050. Hanoi.
Header photo: Fruits being sold in an outdoor stall in Hanoi. Photo by Georgina Smith/CIAT