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Are we ever going to feed the world and nourish the planet effectively?

Twitter chat on 21st April 2017 Can we?

This is a question that has been on many minds and on April 21st 2017, at the eve of the World Earth Day, the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN Foundation) in partnership with the Milan Center for Food Law & Policy organized a Twitter Chat to discuss about solutions, linked factors and actions that we can take to raise awareness about climate change, famine, biodiversity loss, soil degradation and erosion. 

Selected panelist including YPARD, SDSN Youth, WWF, FCRN, FAOKnowledge, Sustainable Food Trust, Food Tank among other important institutions were  invited to address questions on these topics that are already well known to be complex and not easy to solve. However, this is not discouraging YPARD, that fully trusts youth to be part of many possible solutions! As a country representative of YPARD in Italy, I Virginia Cravero, joined the panelist to discuss the issue and bring the youth perspective on board.

Factors affecting our planet and the need to change

We all agreed that climate change, soil degradation and biodiversity loss drivers, together with unsustainable consumption and production patterns are affecting hunger and famine worldwide. Our food chains are mainly environmentally unsustainable relying on the use of chemical inputs and costly imports, which lead to negative effects on ecosystems and communities. Agricultural activities are, thus, affecting our planet. However, there are some food chains that are more resource-intensive than others such as the animal- base, specifically beef and lamb, and the monocultures.

Transportation is also a major problem when talking about industrialized food production releasing tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Even though there is enough food to feed all human being in the Earth, it is absolutely not distributed appropriately. Besides, it is also clear to everyone that global drivers of hunger remain as conflicts, poverty, lack of investments and female empowerment and also climatic conditions such as drought, heavy rains, floods and degraded soils.

Other important drivers the fact that we don’t make use of the food we already grow, which leads to a waste of a third of world’s food produced and we continue to categorize food as a commodity instead of a common. This means that we urgently need to change our way to think about food which has totally different values when compared to other commodities traded such as gold or silver.

Food commons

Solutions to tackle the current issues and the role of the youth

In the specific case of Africa, the severe famine is caused by several problems such as conflicts and paralyzed governments together with climatic and environmental changes. Hence, it is important to invest in agricultural livelihoods to build resilience and to support small-scale farming with appropriate policies.

Fortunately, there are models and solutions that show how to cope with these major issues such as agroforestry which allows storing carbon while boosting yields; and integrated crop-livestock systems which have the ability to rebuild soil fertility and increase biodiversity. At the same time, local communities, young and small-scale farmers are already showing how to fight hunger.  They need to be supported by policies reinforcing small-scale farming and local practices and regionalized trades. Thus, policies should consider food sustainability and biodiversity priorities.

Given that young people will inherit many of the problems that this system is creating, they also have the chance to change things too! Being the future of the food systems, we, as young professionals in agricultural development, should be involved in every step of the way while we also need to be able to bring a fresh thinking if we want to preserve our own future!

Picture credit: Picture 1 – BCFN Foundation, Picture 2 – European commons assembly