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CGIAR and ASEAN held national consultations to define what is next for food systems in the region

To identify national and regional needs for food, land, and water systems transformation, CGIAR conducted seven country consultations workshops and three official dialogues in ASEAN member states.

Jean Balié, the CGIAR Regional Director for Southeast Asia and Pacific along with Ministers and high officials from respective countries inaugurated these virtual workshops. They were attended by partners from the private sector, academia, national agricultural research organizations, and other stakeholders from Lao PDR, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia. Bilateral dialogues were also held with Singapore, Brunei, and Myanmar.

Balié said that a new ASEAN-CGIAR research and innovation for development program could help realize the vision for the ASEAN food system that has been set out in the ASEAN Vision and Strategic Plan for Cooperation in Food, Agriculture, and Forestry 2016-2025 and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. These workshops should help co-create and co-design a new ASEAN-CGIAR research and innovation for development program.

Partnership is the cornerstone of the relationship between CGIAR and ASEAN

Building a strong partnership between CGIAR and ASEAN Member States can help build an agri-food system in the ASEAN region that is both resilient to climate change and fit-for-purpose in terms of delivering key economic, social, and environmental goals.

Nafees Meah, ASEAN-CGIAR Program Director, emphasized that this is an opportunity to co-design relevant pathways to impact reflective of national and regional needs.

“The challenge is [for CGIAR] to really understand the context of each country and build on structures and programs that are in place already and not replicate things,” said Stephan Weise, ASEAN-CGIAR Program Co-director.

Overall, there is a clear appetite in ASEAN Member States to work more strategically with CGIAR.

CGIAR also met with ASEAN Secretariat officials to discuss the outputs of the national technical consultations and they expressed their commitment to working together on achieving food systems transformation across the region.

“We welcome CGIAR in initiating the co-creation and co-design of a new research and innovation for development (RI4D) program with the ASEAN community. CGIAR Centers have long been collaborative partners and the CGIAR has been delivering critical science and innovation to support food and nutrition security in the ASEAN region.  We see this new ASEAN-CGIAR program as an important next step to transform things on the ground. We look forward to the practical implementation of the ASEAN Guidelines on Sustainable Agriculture as part of the program that will support our region in establishing a more sustainable and circular system, as well as decarbonizing the agricultural sector,” said Satvinder Singh, ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Economic Community.

An initial program framing document on ASEAN-CGIAR research program, informed by the series of consultations, will be presented for review in the 16th ASEAN Technical Working Group on Agriculture and Research Development on 20 April 2022. Through further consultations with countries, stakeholders, and funders, this will lead to the presentation of a 5-year proposal at the next ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) meeting in October 2022 and targeted starting date of January 2023.