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World Food Forum: Towards a better, youth-led food future (Note)

 

 

29/10/2021 Hear from the voices behind the first-of-its-kind movement conceived by and for global youth on the road towards a more sustainable and inclusive food future for all. 

*To see the original note go to https://www.fao.org/new-york/news/detail/en/c/1447484/ 

 

What is the World Food Forum (WFF) and how has it fostered a movement based on innovation, creativity, and collaboration in working to tackle the world’s most pressing issues?  

Máximo Torero, FAO Chief Economist and Chair of the WFF

The WFF is an independent global network of partners, created for, and led by, youth. It was originally conceived by the FAO Youth Committee, but has since grown in scope and support base to serve as the premier youth platform to galvanize action and identify solutions to the growing challenges facing our agri-food systems. 

Through events organized across themes including policy, innovation, education, cooking, and the arts, the WFF has already engaged thousands of young people and youth advocates around the world spanning over 200 countries and territories, and culminating in the WWF 2021 flagship event in October, which saw over 20 000 visitors connecting virtually across five days.

The WFF has hosted start-up and research competitions to bolster new solutions, held a film festival and concerts to raise awareness of pressing issues, hosted an art exhibit, roundtables and assemblies with youth and indigenous groups, convened educational masterclasses featuring global leaders, and more! Most importantly, the WFF has created a space where youth voices are heard, and their ideas can be transformed into actions.

With the WFF flagship event behind us, how can the UN and its partners best support global youth in being part of the solution for a better food future for all?

Jim Leandro Cano – Chair, Youth Alliance for Zero Hunger

First, institutionalize youth democratic engagement, and second, translate commitments into financial support for youth.

It is no wonder that young peoples’ passion and work on food systems issues have been highlighted this year more than ever due to many key policy and dialogue processes around this topic. The recent WFF event has been a success. It came up with responsibilities to do more, specifically on the ground, for a better food future. Young people have been working as part of the solution already across many entities and roles. 

Pramisha Thapaliya – Youth Leader, of the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY)

The UN and its partners need to play a mainstream role in integrating the voices of children and youth, specifically by removing systemic barriers and hurdles, like the access to finance, bureaucracy, and the lack of access to resources. It can do so by working together with governments, communities, and partners at the national, regional, and global levels. Furthermore, the UN should not cherry-pick youths in their processes, but should instead systematically channel youth voices through institutionalized structures and mechanisms.

How can you bring the WFF results to the regions and countries, and how do you see it moving forward? Who can be a part and how?

Genna Tesdall – Director, Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD)

The WFF is open to everyone, including supporters and partners of youth. Specifically, the Youth Action Track was created by youth, for youth, and focuses on three youth working areas: (i) the Youth Action Compendium, a summary of actionable solutions drafted during the first WFF flagship event that will be carried forward in the future through best practice guides; (ii) the Youth Action Plan, a rolling planning document that informs the future path of action for the WFF moving forward; and (iii) the Youth Action Assembly, through which youth can engage politically at all levels of food and agri-food systems governance. 

Lisanne van Oosterhaudt – WFF Champion (Netherlands)

From the grassroots to the global level in the form of real projects, to advocacy, entrepreneurship, the arts, and much more, young people are already taking action to transform agri-food systems. The Youth Actions Assembly aims at providing a dedicated, apolitical, sustained, self-organized, and institutional space for youth in agri-food systems advocacy and actions founded on inclusivity, diversity, and respect of all persons. 

Anyone eligible can participate by signing up for the working groups here (or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). The governance zero draft outlines eligible participants of the Youth Action Assembly, which will be finalized by the Working Group on Governance. 

Yugratna Srivastava – Plant-for-the-Planet and Youth Leader, MGCY

We are looking forward to an inclusive and consultative way forward in shaping the next steps for the WFF youth engagement. Importance must be given for mandated youth constituencies and networks, including those from grassroots communities, to be engaged and thereby act as multipliers in their regions. 

What can we expect to see in the coming months?  

Kazuki Kitaoka – Head of Marketing, Outreach and Reporting at FAO; Coordinator of the WFF

The WFF is only just beginning. In the first seven months since its launch, we have established a Youth Action Assembly, a governance structure, and a Compendium to ensure youth have an active voice and seat at the table. We have surfaced 88 research ideas and 3 700 start-ups, and recognized 20 finalists amongst these in order to help spur innovation that addresses the myriad challenges we are facing. 

We have brought forward hundreds of films focusing on food and agri-food systems, launched the first-ever Junior World Food Day to engage and educate children at a younger age, and facilitated roundtables and declarations from young farmers and indigenous communities to ensure that all voices are heard. We have also received the active support of hundreds of volunteers, consulted over 6 000 youth on these key topics, signed on over 75 partners, and laid the foundation for the world’s largest youth movement dedicated to agri-food systems transformation. In the coming months, the momentum will continue to build and the movement will expand. 

Currently in the works are plans to expand the adoption of the international visual language of Foodicons, which we launched in October at the WFF flagship event, and which is meant to facilitate communication and greater global cooperation between farmers, food producers, retailers, and consumers as the world comes together to strengthen agri-food systems. We will also continue to host many WFF Masterclasses, COP26 and Nutrition for Growth side events, and youth leader coordination events throughout the remainder of 2021. 

Next year, we will launch the WFF Young Scientists Group, strengthen our Youth Action Assembly, and start monitoring advances towards food systems transformation at the local, regional, and global levels using the framework of the Youth Action Compendium, which was drafted this year. We will also launch local WFF chapters around the globe, and scale up support for finding and nurturing new solutions for a better food future. In the meantime, we encourage anyone who is interested to join us on this critical mission!