9 – 15 August 2021
INTERNATIONAL YOUTH WEEK 2021
International Youth Day is celebrated annually bringing to the front the issues that youth face worldwide.
This year’s International Youth Day aims to highlight the importance of youth innovations in building resilience
in our food systems through transformative approaches that ultimately strengthens human and planetary health.
International Youth Day 2021 events by UN-Habitat Youth
The youth, as we know it, are the core energetic and dynamic stakeholders of the society who are capable of shaping and reshaping leadership of today and the future. Harnessing their true potentials and immense eagerness to change themselves, their families and their countries, at large, are the key components to achieve resilience and sustainability across the globe. This year’s August 12 marked the International Youth Day by contemplating on the importance of the youth in bringing innovative solutions needed particularly for the world’s food systems.
The online session at the IYD 2021 Virtual Conference, hence, circled around a theme of “Designing Tomorrow’s Food Systems Today: Youth Innovations and Best Practices”. As a sideline for the 2021’s ECOSOC Youth Forum, this conference, organized by the UN-Habitat, drew representatives of the United Nations, plenty of experts from the agriculture industry and most importantly, young agripreneurs to share their best practices, raise real-time challenges and the way forwards.
Moderated by Raphael Obnyo, the panel began by clearly discussing about food systems and the explanations of what it entails. Emmy award winning filmmaker and founder and coordinator of Creates 2030, Lisa Russell puts it as “Same as SGDs, food systems are our rights, but also our responsibilities for living on this planet”. On one side, it is the responsibility of governments to ensure food is produced, packaged, transported and cleared up in the best way possible for people and the environment. And on the other, it is also the responsibility of the people to address food injustice and food waste handling. Despite the complexity of food systems, if both responsibilities are handled properly, healthy and safe communities are inevitable.
To address this beneficiary food systems on a global scale, Dr. Bala,country director at nutrition International, suggested to harness the regenerative power found within us to create strong local temples, foster radical collaborations and listen to what our environment has to say. He urged the panelist to”Work with the planet and not against it”. It is indeed the first priority to consider planetary diversity in any agri-system.
Following these remarks, a young ambassador from India, Sachi, also added her first-hand experience on the importance of capacity building programes for businesses, training people on new agricultural practices and how they can easily understand and smoothly join the supply chain food system. A couple of examples that brought her community an enhanced output of a farm land were seasonal farming and usage of smart systems that enable tracking the agri-cycle. These developments enabled her community not only to strengthen their overall capacity and performance but also bring about a sustainable ecosystem.
However, there are some barriers that prevent young people from scaling their businesses and activities in the food industry. It was pointed out that lack of access to appropriate and affordable resources as another type of set-backs. These lack of resources manifest in terms of capital and collateral shortages, poor/none credit services and lack of particular products, technologies and technical skills that the youth require to start or progress in the agronomic industry.
And yet, these are not enough. As Brenda, founder and CEO of Wonderland, added, there should also be abiding policies and participatory programmes that are responsive to the needs and concerns of young agripreneurs in terms of adjusting and administrating scales of food producers and their shares within the market. There shall also be a working system that is in place to enforce these policies until the realization of strong food systems that can guarantee food security to the community. In the process, it will also create a fair-market system which balances the supply and demand.IIt
In summary, the conference became a platform that enabled the panelists to raise awareness regarding the different challenges experienced by the youth when it comes to participating in the food governance systems. Different experts within the food industry also shared innovative ideas and applied scientific solutions that has already yielded significant mind-shifts in the way food is produced, packed, delivered and disposed. It was, hence, agreed that it is indeed mandatory to inject the required technologies and skills inside the mindset young agreprenuers to bring dynamic changes in designing the food systems of tomorrow today.