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YPARD and the United Nations Food Summit 2021: Policy Position

The UNFSS21 (United Nations Food Summit 2021) took place this September 23, 2021 in New York City. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the summit was held virtually.

YPARD has been actively involved in the UNFSS21 this year and we are delighted to share with you our policy position as we headed into the UNFSS. The statement below is based on outcomes from the UNFSS Independent Dialogue held by All African Youth in Agribusiness and Climate Change represented by CAADP Youth Network (CYN), Africa Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC Africa) and Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD Africa). 

A Position on UN Food Systems Summit Pre-Summit Commitments By Youth For Youth

As the largest global network for young professionals in agricultural development, YPARD is engaging in a consultative process to conduct the views of our network to the actors present at the UN Food Systems Summit and Pre-Summit. We call on all stakeholders to take full responsibility for their actions and responses, or non-responses, to the numerous crises we face in agrifood systems, and to consistently and democratically engage youth, in all our diversity, in the solutions-making and implementation processes.

As such, we call on governments, the United Nations, civil society and the private sector to commit to…  

involve youth at all levels, in particular to:

  • Critically assess and increase allocation of national funds for young people. Most governments lack transparency and commitment in their budgetary allocation of funds intended for the use of youth and youth activities. 
  • Create and implement policies to ensure improving access to land and water, especially for young people and women. Unutilized land and other resources, especially land that is owned but with no activity on it in both rural and urban areas, must be accessible for young people for productive and nature-restoration uses. 
  • Support better forms of coordination within the public and private investments, focusing on the co-creation of solutions that meet individual and collective ambitions for tackling human and planetary crises. This means consistently and democratically involving diverse youth as stakeholders at all stages of the policy-making and leadership processes. 
  • Create and implement policies which improve the lives of young subsistence farmers by relieving barriers to market access and restrictions to off-farm employment opportunities.
  • Ensure access to finance is easily accessible and affordable. This can be achieved by putting in place friendly banking policies through which young people can leverage, especially for agricultural and restoration activities. 
  • Stop watching as gaps continue to widen within our societies. Take immediate action towards advancing equity in agri-food systems, including being inclusive and sensitive to gender and social inequalities. Growing evidence demonstrates agricultural innovations often affect individuals differently within households and communities due to differences in gender, power, roles, and access to rights, especially among the youth. 
  • Determine food prices considering the full cost principle -- that is, in business models, all stakeholders must consider the positive and negative externalities generated by food production. The so-called ‘cheap labour’ terminology applied to  farmers and growers in developing countries needs to be reviewed and dignified as well for  future and present farmers- including the  youth, to have enhanced livelihoods in these areas. 

support nature-positive knowledge and research, in particular to: 

  • Support science and research opportunities, especially for young people. Young people have come up with countless solutions and innovations that can create opportunities that offer better and more sustainable ways of farming that can reduce the time and labor efforts in farming.
  • Commit to a systematic approach to agriculture and systemic change to nature-positive production. Such a change will allow the stakeholders to center their activities on nature-positive production, and reduce barriers to youth participation in agroecological farming systems. 
  • Create a repository of the tremendous scientific knowledge about nature-positive production and enable a transparent mechanism to transfer the knowledge to their populations. This will counter the belief that nature-positive agriculture is not modern enough to meet current food needs. 
  • Develop a system-oriented research approach that will help acquire updated information about food production systems and their associated challenges. Consequently, with this knowledge, it will be easy to develop strategies to enhance their adoption depending on the context. 
  • Develop and implement policies that mandate higher learning institutions to integrate nature-positive production into their curricula so that young people graduate ready to participate and implement environmental and nature-friendly food production systems. 
  • Support farmers, consumers, scientists and other stakeholders to engage in co-learning activities to enhance their knowledge about positive-nature production. 
  • Localize market information systems (MIS) in such a way that they reach both small scale ventures and subsistence farmers. Agricultural MIS, inventory credit (IC) and contract farming (CF) can be interconnected, as through a commodity exchange, for example, which requires local inventory systems linked to inventory credit mechanisms, which in turn are more effective when buyers and sellers are informed. 
  • Promote reduction in consumption and food wastage, especially because food systems are largely automated and carbon footprints are heightened by high consumption and waste cycles. 

prepare for and respond to crises, in particular to: 

  • Extend dignity to youth by cushioning small scale and subsistence farming from externalities and, most importantly, unprecedented shocks and stresses. 
  • Put up emergency interventions in upscaling food, energy and water value systems that are resilient to shocks and that will secure labour for the future and our young families. 
  • Upscale efforts to arrest the inevitable repercussions of Covid-19 in a timely, speedy and inclusive manner. while ensuring food system resilience will give rise to complex synergies and trade-offs across economic, political, social and environmental dimensions that need to be considered in setting priorities across productivity growth, environmental sustainability and hunger reduction. 
  • Apply additional scrutiny and resources to identifying the widely varied determinants of access to safe and nutritious food, reinforcing the fact that solutions cannot be “one size fits all” and thus resilient food systems need to be context-specific.