ASEAN-CGIAR Regional Program highlight partnerships to achieve food security during ADB Food Security Forum

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MANILA, Philippines—Achieving sustainable food systems transformation in Southeast Asia entails cooperation and collaboration among the public and private sector, including research organizations and financial institutions in the region. Bringing together experts from CGIAR Centers in Southeast Asia and ASEAN member states, the ASEAN-CGIAR Innovate for Food and Nutrition Security Regional Program highlighted how innovations and synergies across relevant stakeholders contribute to achieving food and nutrition security in Southeast Asia and beyond during the Asia and the Pacific Food Security Forum hosted by the Asian Development Bank on 11 April 2024. 

ASEAN-CGIAR Regional Program highlight partnerships to achieve food security during ADB Food Security Forum
Photo credit: Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT/Alie Galeon (2024).

The ASEAN-CGIAR Innovative for Food and Nutrition Security Regional Program, launched in October 2023, aims to scale up and scale out integrated innovations to enhance the resilience of ASEAN’s agri-food systems to climate change, and to ensure their sustainable, nutrition sensitive and equitable transformation. In the deep dive session for the forum entitled “Food and Nutrition Security: Unveiling Innovations and Building Partnerships for Sustainable ASEAN Agri-Food Systems.” The session convened experts particularly in the areas of value chains and regional trade, climate neutrality and circular agriculture, and food systems transformation for more nutritious and healthy diets. Apart from showcasing impactful case studies in the areas of work in the program, this session also pulled together key partners who bring in local contexts and experiences in shaping relevant interventions for Southeast Asia.

Building on CGIAR expertise with partners 

ASEAN-CGIAR Regional Program highlight partnerships to achieve food security during ADB Food Security Forum - Image 5
Photo Credit: Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT/Alie Galeon (2024).

Session moderator and co-lead of the ASEAN-CGIAR regional program, Stephan Weise of the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) introduced the research program, highlighting important steps undertaken by the collaborative work done by CGIAR research centers in Southeast Asia. “To address complex and overlapping challenges in agriculture and food systems in the region, the CGIAR research centers in the region are making great progress, along with our partners, in contributing to the effort towards food and nutrition security and development in this critical region in the world,” Weise said.  

ASEAN-CGIAR Regional Program highlight partnerships to achieve food security during ADB Food Security Forum - Image 2
Photo Credit: Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT/Alie Galeon (2024).

Moving ahead to navigate the future of ASEAN agri-food systems, Jongsoo Shin of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and lead of the ASEAN-CGIAR regional program discussed innovative approaches to achieve sustainable, resilient, and inclusive agri-food systems. “By working with our partners who know the ins and outs of agri-food systems in Southeast Asia, we are able to understand future trends and opportunities where we can deliver impacts by working on strategic policies, tools and innovations toward a food and nutrition secure future,” Shin said. He underlined the global community’s significant interest in the role that ASEAN member states play within global food supply chains. This interest presents a broader opportunity for collective action, transforming practices to adapt to environmental changes. 

ASEAN-CGIAR Regional Program highlight partnerships to achieve food security during ADB Food Security Forum - Image 6
Photo Credit: Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT/Alie Galeon (2024).

Convenors of three out of the eight intervention packages of the ASEAN-CGIAR Regional Program presented case studies to showcase how the CGIAR is contributing to improve environmental sustainability, resilience to climate change, and food systems transformation for healthier diets: 

  • Kevin Chen (International Food Policy Research Institute), Convenor on Enhancing Value Chains and Regional Trade 
  • Kazuki Saito (IRRI), Convenor on Climate Neutrality and Circular Agriculture 
  • Tuyen Huynh (Alliance), Convenor on Food Systems transformation for More Nutritious and Healthy Diets 

Highlighting ASEAN opportunities and contexts 

Key to delivering research outcomes and impact in the region, the CGIAR is working closely with ASEAN partners, including the ASEAN secretariat and member states. In this session, partners in the ASEAN explored how policies can leverage scientific expertise in creating resilient agri-food systems that go beyond projects and programs, emphasizing the need for partnerships in integrating research results with broader national and regional food security initiatives. 

Pedcris Orencio, Senior Officer for Food Agriculture and Forestry Division of the ASEAN Secretariat affirms that the ASEAN-CGIAR Regional Program enables a closer working relationship between member states and CGIAR centers to co-create relevant interventions that result in relevant and actionable outcomes on key agri-food challenges in the region. “This research program supports ASEAN’s key priorities by not only documenting best practices but also scaling sustainable interventions in Southeast Asia through practical program implementation, which are beyond site-specific pilot projects,” Orencio said. 

Aside from the ASEAN Secretariat, other partners also presented key insights on how working with the CGIAR opened opportunities in transforming agriculture in member states: 

  • Margaret Yoovatana, Chair of the ASEAN Climate Resilient Network and Head of the Multilateral and International Organization Collaborations of the International Agricultural Affairs Group, Planning and Technical Division, Department of Agriculture in Thailand 
  • Bui My Binh, Food Systems Focal Point and Senior Officer of the International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam 

Shin and Weise hope that this session will serve as an inspiration of taking research one step forward to achieve inclusive and sustainable transformation of agri-food systems in Southeast Asia and inspire other stakeholders to work with the ASEAN-CGIAR Regional Program to propel collective approaches to attain food and nutrition security. 

The ASEAN-CGIAR Regional Program is supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom. For more information on the ASEAN-CGIAR Innovate for Food and Nutrition Security Regional Program, please contact: Dr. Jongsoo Shin (ASEAN-CGIAR Program Director) and Dr. Stephan Weise (ASEAN-CGIAR Program Co-Director) at innovateforfood@irri.org. 

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