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CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems’ Youth Strategy 2014-2017: Engaging Youth in Innovative Agricultural Development

©FAO/Giulio NapolitanoWhy is it at times more rewarding to involve today's youth in innovation to improve agricultural livelihoods than to work with previous generations?

A significant part of the reason stems from the rapid changes taking place in today’s globalized world that is typified by migration, urbanization, technological innovation, increasing educational levels and aspirations, and the IT and social media revolution linking youth to global information and change movements.

CGIAR Youth Strategy - Setting a precedent

This Youth Strategy is the first to be issued within the CGIAR system, setting a precedent that may stimulate serious attention to this critical stakeholder group among other CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs). It may also contribute to inspire joint efforts with other partners to engage youth in innovative agricultural development.

The strategy was developed through a participatory, multi-stakeholder process that was initiated in the Gender and Youth Strategy Design Workshop (Malawi, 20–21 September 2013). It also draws on rich discussions at the Dryland Systems First Science and Implementation Meeting (Amman, Jordan, 30 June–4 July 2014).

Gender specialists like Jennie Dey de Pryck (Global Forum on Agricultural Research/Gender in Agriculture Partnership), is the lead writer of this document with valuable contributions from Young Professionals for Agricultural Development staff  Courtney Paisley and Marina Cherbonnier.

Gender and age disaggregated approach

Youth and particularly young women have long been side-lined in policymaking. However, young people now more than ever must become engaged in decision making, project design and implementation of innovative agricultural programs.

The CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems youth strategy 2014-2017 is anchored around two mandates of Dryland Systems. The first one is youth, which is one of the four cross-cutting themes: gender, youth, biodiversity, and capacity building; and the other one relates to the fifth of the six Intermediate Development Outcomes (IDO 5), which is devoted to gender equality and youth inclusiveness.

The CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems’ gender strategy offers an age disaggregated approach to identify and address the needs of young people.

Developing a Youth Strategy – Optional?

The importance of building a youth strategy relies on the will to address youth specific issues such as rural-urban migration and youth unemployment. Likewise, it represents the first step to find ways to attract and have youth actively involved in tackling the global ageing agricultural labor force’s challenges.

Tackling global food security and nutrition challenges and building a sustainable future, requires the new generation to become dynamic change agents in agriculture. This can only happen when local, national and global stakeholders realize the crucial role they need to play, through appropriate youth policies and plans, to enable the youth to unleash their full potential.

Without concerted efforts and commitment from all stakeholders, this youth strategy will be little more than pieces of paper. “Since the CGIAR is treading on new ground, this strategy represents a living document, to be elaborated and enriched in the light of fresh insights and experiences among CGIAR’s many partners and stakeholders, as well as the evolving CGIAR reform process.”

Click here to read the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems Youth Strategy 2014-2017.

Picture credit: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano