Dutch Agri-Water Alumni Event: Nurturing collaborative growth for a sustainable future in Vietnam

In a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation, the Dutch Agri-Water Alumni Event unfolded at Can Tho University on December 11, 2023. This significant gathering, co-organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Netherlands Embassy in Vietnam, Can Tho University, and Nuffic Southeast Asia, marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the Netherlands. Nearly 150 Dutch alumni, luminaries in agriculture and water management, convened to share insights, strategies, and innovative solutions for steering Vietnam's agricultural sector toward a sustainable and prosperous future.

Diamond Approach to Climate Challenges

The event commenced with a vibrant Marketplace, a display area featuring prominent Dutch companies and organizations committed to advancing sustainable practices in Vietnam. Notable participants included De Heus, Skretting, Rijk Zwaan, Agriterra, Deltares, The Fruit Republic, Fresh Studio, Kim Delta, and GreenCoco showcased their contributions to the agricultural and water management sectors. This market space provided a platform for networking and knowledge exchange, setting the stage for a day of insightful discussions.

The seminar, a focal point of the event, featured a diverse range of presentations and discussions. The program commenced with the arrival of distinguished guests, followed by a warm welcome and introduction. Mr. Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, General Director of the International Cooperation Department, delivered the opening speech on behalf of the Vietnam Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, setting the tone for the day.

Minister Piet Adema, the Netherlands' Minister of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality, addressed the audience through a video recording, emphasizing the 10th anniversary of the Strategic Partnership in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security. He advocated for a collaborative "Diamond Approach" involving government, private sector, knowledge institutions, and civil society to address shared challenges, particularly climate change. Minister Adema stressed the importance of sustainable, climate-smart agriculture and expressed a desire for the younger generation to be inspired by the dynamic agricultural sector. Minister Piet Adema Presentation link.

Ambassador Kees van Baar reiterated the Dutch commitment to bilateral cooperation, focusing on the Diamond approach to tackle climate change challenges. He highlighted pillars such as sustainable agriculture, water management, and climate change adaptation in the Mekong Delta. The Integrated Masterplan, launched the previous year, was emphasized as a milestone for long-term planning.

The seminar included a video speech by Ms. Meike van Ginneken, Netherlands Water Envoy, emphasizing the vital role of water management in addressing climate change challenges and advocating for sustainable practices to ensure the resilience of the Mekong Delta.

The seminar also featured insightful presentations on various topics, including sustainable aquaculture development, freshwater availability in the Mekong Delta and the development of a sustainable fruit value chain. These discussions showcased the practical implementation of the Dutch Diamond approach in addressing challenges and empowering local communities. All the seminar presentations can be found here.

Alumni Voices: Bridging Past and Future and Looking Forward a Shared Journey

The heart of the event was the knowledge and expertise sharing by Dutch alumni in agriculture and water management. The event took a historical turn as Mr. Le Quang Minh, the very first Dutch alumnus in Vietnam and former rector of Can Tho University, walked the audience through the past. The reminiscence was a poignant reminder of the enduring relationship between Vietnam and the Netherlands.

The menti session, a dynamic interactive segment, engaged participants in a collective exchange of ideas and perspectives. The afternoon session saw a panel discussion titled "Heading to Future," with elevating pitches by panelists and engaging Menti sessions. The lively idea exchanges highlighted the dynamic nature of the agricultural sector and the alumni's commitment to driving positive change.

In the closing remarks at the end of the seminar, the Dutch Agricultural Counselor, Ms. Korving highlighted the event's significance in reflecting on past achievements and envisioning a shared future. She expressed hope that Dutch alumni would become ambassadors contributing to the shared development of both countries. The event culminated in a networking reception, providing a platform for participants to interact with Dutch businesses and organizations present in Vietnam.

The Dutch Agri-Water Alumni Event proved to be a dynamic platform for knowledge exchange, fostering sustainable practices, and building bridges for the future. As the alumni dispersed, the echoes of collaborative aspirations lingered, promising a resilient, sustainable, and prosperous future in the Mekong Delta and beyond. The stories shared during the event exemplified the integrated approach involving the public, private, knowledge institutes, and civil society for the betterment of both Vietnam and the Netherlands.

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