Student engagement, social innovation, fostering democracy, youth employment, conflict and sustainable development are among the issues that have been discussed on the floor of the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum, 17 to 20 October 2011 in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The Forum brought together youth delegates, civil society participants, UN entities, intergovernmental organizations, academics and the private sector. Participants discussed, debated, and exchanged ideas on the Forum’s timely themes and had the opportunity to present their recommendations to the representatives of Member States. Learn more about the forum here.
YPARD was represented at the UNESCO Youth Forum, with ‘observer’ status which meant that it could not contribute to the discussion. This is what I ‘observed’:
There is a severe lack of agricultural related organizations present and a large omission of agriculture and agricultural research for development from the debate. The environmental session: Towards green societies; engaging the youth to create local solutions for a sustainable future, had little to say about agriculture. Climate change dominated the discussion. While this is a very important issue, there was little mention of how modern commercial agriculture is a major contributor of greenhouse gases or how it produces pollutants and uses large amounts of freshwater. The conversation about a sustainable future cannot be had by ignoring agriculture and the food sector.
The primary concern that was raised over and over again was employment and the future of young people in their respective countries. This is an obvious concern to young people today and YPARD understands that when understanding the youth’s relation to the agricultural research for development sector, employment prospects are a major factor. Not only prospects but job satisfaction and making a difference.
We need to emphasize the role of agricultural research for development as part of the bigger picture. It is a large part and today’s youth must be reminded of how it is integrated into our global system.