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Young Professionals in Agriculture engage into discussions on Climate Change!

COP18, the 18th edition of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was taking place from November 26 to December 7, 2012 in Doha, Qatar.

Two events were particularly related to agriculture: “Forest day” and “Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day”, December 2 and 3, 2012.

Agriculture needed to have its space at the negotiation table at COP18 in order to influence effective implementation of solutions focusing on agricultural activities.

As we have learned during GCARD2, special media gives us the opportunity to engage, to get the voice of young professionals heard, and to get a space on the stage.

That is why we wanted our YPARD members to unleash their social media power with these two events at COP18 and bring to the forefront “youth in agriculture” ’s perspectives!

It was also a mean to stress “Youth in Ag.” ’s need for support, and promote agriculture as a field where enthusiastic, bright, confident and ICT-literate young people fulfil themselves!

How this all happened…

In order to make fruitful contribution, the youth had read carefully the content available on line through the different websites: forestday.org and agricultureday.org.

One week before the event, they could already follow #ALLforest on Twitter: the common hashtag for the 2 events related to agriculure, held on December 2nd and 3rd. There was already a lot of information shared that they could re-tweet (disseminate) and comment.

An online #ALLForest social media team was also running through google group (built from past-events, including RIO+20). This list consists of experienced social media people, many running the social media for big organisations (WordBank, WFP, IFAD, WFP,..).

This team needed more young people to join. That is where YPARD call played a key role! It was an excellent opportunity to experience the setup and execution of an event's social reporting! Many of the Young Social reporters gathered for GCARD2 the month before took the challenge again!

Our YPs (Young Professionals) were also encouraged to create content: tell their own story. We indeed wanted to know how they were confronted with the consequences of climate change, and how they were working with ways to adapt to these changes.

Both events were webcasted. By following on Twitter at the same time, we were given occasions to speak up online - on real time! -, share information, comment, ask questions to the panellist by interacting with the moderators who were relaying our questions on-site.

We did it !

At RIO+20, we earned our spotlight, when during AgricultureDay, the first question taken from the online public to the panellist was from... YPARD! There was NO YPARD member in the room; we were only present online!

We did it again at COP18 Agriculture! Before the closing remark of the agriculture day, moderators solicited on-line participants through micro-blog: “Are there any burning issues that you would still like to bring to this audience?”, “Hey world - what was missing from today's event?”

We grabbed the chance! We expressed our frustration at not seeing Youth challenges and opportunities addressed when it comes to climate change and agriculture. Our online youth group echoed, by retweeting:“Focus on YOUTH role & support needed, was strongly missing!”, “Can we talk about sustainable agriculture &climate change without addressing support to #youth? (rhetoric question)”, “That's right! Focus on YOUTH role & support needed!”, “FACT! Focus on YOUTH role & support needed, was strongly missing!”

We got heard by the moderators: “Thanks for the immediate online feedback. Heard you on gender, youth and rural development!”, “YPARD, we heard you... We brought the message for the closing session. Just wait. watch the webcast. You will see!!!”, “OK, online community, webcast with your feedback now live: http://agricultureday.org” 

We got our message spoken out at the closing session! Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda said : Youth are complaining."We are the future farmers. If in the future we don't farm, you will have no food". Invest in rural development and engagement of youth in whole value chain. UNFCCC do you hear us? "No Agriculture? No Deal!"

This is just a milestone on the road...

As CGIAR said through Twitter : “YPARD there you go. So, once again, now is the time for youth to engage, towards policy, research, extension and your peers!”

We got our recognition and we have a group of strong, enthusiastic and dedicated Young People to carry on bringing youth messages out! We also thank the social media coordinator, Peter Casier, for opening the floor and supporting us restlessly: “Without the help of YPARD and the youth, there would have been no social reporting from this conference”

Youth in Agriculture are here, willing, enthusiastic & bright! They just need a little push &support! We are getting strong in giving a voice to Youth in Agriculture, as individuals and as a core group of "YPARDians"! We must still ensure that we are significantly heard!

This article was published in the Newsletter of December of the World Farmers' Organisation, p.20: Young Professionals in Agriculture engage into discussions on Climate Change!, by Marina Cherbonnier, YPARD