Regional ASEAN Conference: LET’S GET TO WORK – Building a food-secure future - March 22nd and 23rd

The ASEAN+61 conference LET’S GET TO WORK – Building a food-secure future will focus on concrete contributions to the implementation of several Sustainable Development Goals. The conference will be held in Hanoi on 22 and 23 March 2017 and will be hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands, and in close cooperation with World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Grow Asia, ASEAN and the Asian Development Bank. The conference aims to bring together a broad range of high-level delegates from government, international organisations, NGOs, knowledge institutes and the private sector.

Regional challenges and opportunities

The region has made meaningful gains in reducing chronic hunger over the past few decades. A large proportion of the population and their economic activity and livelihood is heavily reliant on agriculture. However, the impact of climate change is already undermining the level and quality of agricultural production and food systems in the region. At the same time, developments such as population growth, urbanisation and rising incomes are resulting in increasing demand for high-quality nutritious food and putting increasing pressure on already scarce natural resources. These trends pose a threat to food security and sustainable agriculture, underlining the important role of women and signalling the need for youth to get involved in agriculture. In order to facilitate this, sustainable and resilient means must be found to increase future agricultural production and produce high-quality food products for all, which includes supplying growing cities with adequate and affordable food.2 Past results in combatting hunger in the region and regional capacity to ramp up agricultural production demonstrate that there is high potential to supply the whole population with high-quality food products in a sustainable manner. This will require long- term investments and developments in agriculture, ranging from finance to knowledge and technology.

Action-oriented conference

To maximise the region’s potential, action is key! All participants can make a difference by working together in partnerships. In order to achieve concrete, actionable outcomes, acknowledging and building on regional and local priorities, partnerships can lead to Food Security Deals or initiatives. Food Security Deals are concrete, cross-sectorial deals made by different configurations of stakeholders which commit themselves to action in new solutions to combat food security issues. The deals will seek to reinforce and prompt real action. The conference aims to take meaningful steps by agreeing on a regional action plan for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. The conference is also focusing on how the action plans of several related previous international conferences could be implemented, specifically in Asia.

LET’S GET TO WORK – Building a food-secure future is an invitation to share, discuss and demonstrate ideas for translating challenges into opportunities and global objectives into concrete, clear and concerted regional actions both big and small. All participants governments, NGOs, financial institutions, knowledge institutes and private sector parties are encouraged to share their initiatives, experience and expertise with each other in this regional platform. The conference will take a bottom-up approach in order to maximise knowledge crossovers, using inspiring examples of regional actions that have already made this translation successfully and addressing current challenges. By creating bridges between challenges and ideas, the conference will benefit one and all.

Vietnam as initiator

Vietnam is taking the initiative to organise LET’S GET TO WORK – Building a food-secure future based on a national sense of urgency to come up with solutions for climate change and growing demand for high-quality food. The government has taken on the Zero Hunger challenge to transform Vietnamese agriculture into a more resilient, productive and sustainable economic sector for the benefit of all. During the conference, Vietnam will demonstrate that policy and calls for action can indeed lead to concrete measures, as illustrated by two actual projects: one focused on reducing food loss through post-harvest interventions and the other on sustainable aquaculture to counter overfishing and biodiversity loss. By setting the stage and taking the initiative, this conference aims to be a trigger for many more future initiatives in myriad countries, leading to real advances in translating policy into concrete actions.

Action themes

The overarching theme of the conference will be food security with a focus on:

1. Food loss and waste reduction, by identifying and showcasing possible solutions to reduce food waste in the postharvest value chain “from farm to fork”.
Reducing food losses and waste can add to 30% of the aimed increase of production. Currently around one third of the food produced is being lost or wasted. This huge level of inefficiency has economic, social, and environmental impacts. In Asia in comparison to western countries food
loss occurs more ‘near the farm’ in developing regions and more ‘near the fork’ in developed regions (food waste). In Asia in total 28.7 % of the food is lost and wasted. Of this volume, 31% of the food losses is found during the harvest phase and 34% in the postharvest phase, while 35% is found in the processing, packaging, distribution and consumption phase. Reducing food loss and waste can be a “triple win” opportunity: it saves money for farmers, companies, and households; wasting less means helping feed more; alleviates pressure on climate, water, and land resources. Investments in agro-processing operations, such as milling cereals, extracting oil and (cold) storage and marketing facilities should help reduce food losses and waste across the food system, and in turn, increase quality and food safety. However the impact of the intervention should not negatively impact other aspects such as CO2 emission. Amongst others, a local post-harvest network could serve the region by bringing together the local and regional knowhow and expertise, but also the international knowledge and networks.

Furthermore some other themes will be discussed:

  1. Sustainable Aquaculture Development by improving fish supply for food and nutrition,

    increase livelihood opportunities through more efficient and sustainable use of aquaculture

    resources, including aquaculture in mangrove forests.

  2. Climate-Smart Agriculture by triple-win of adaptation, mitigation and sustainably to

    increase agricultural production and income.

  3. Food Safety and efficient uses of agricultural resources.


The conference ties in with the globally agreed SDGs, Agenda 2030 and COP21 Paris Agreement and focuses on regional and local ideas, action plans and f and how they can be translated into concrete food security deals for the region. Different global networks established in recent years, like Champions 12.3, the Global Alliance on Climate-Smart Agriculture and the Global Oceans Network are a stimulus for further effective networking and partnerships. The conference connects to and builds on those agreements and actions. Recognising the considerable regional achievements and challenges on the road to Zero Hunger, food security and improved nutrition and food safety, this conference will build on the previous commitments of also Asian leaders, such as the Grow Asia partnership launched in 2015, by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat.

ANNEX: Sustainable Development Goals with particular relevance for the Conference




End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.


Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.


By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.


By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.


Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.


By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.


Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.


Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.


By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism.


Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.


Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

More information about the Strategic Development Goals can be found on



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