FAO Director-General stresses crucial role of young people in finding solutions and shaping future paths
Rome – Aiming to galvanize change in the way our food is produced, delivered and consumed and to alleviate a growing global food crisis, a youth-led initiative World Food Forum opened here today, seeking to stimulate youth engagement, science and innovation, and investment.
This multifaceted event, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is the second of its kind. It follows last year’s innovative forum which attracted 20,000 participants and 75 partners in the search for the best solutions to reshape global agrifood systems.
“You have created a global movement with us,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu told young people in his opening speech at the forum. “You make your voice heard and you feel it dynamically. You inspire and lead real action. The innovation and solution-focused thinking of young friends and supporters gives me confidence that we are on the right path. ” Qu added, “The future of agribusiness is in our hands and we are confident that it is a better future for you and for all of us.”
In a message read on his behalf, Pope Francis said that in this time of interconnected crises, the challenge is not simply to give food but to give oneself in the service of others, recognizing and guaranteeing the centrality of the human person. the priority can only be safeguarded if we believe once again in brotherhood and solidarity which must inspire relations between individuals and between peoples. »
World leaders address the meeting
Among world leaders attending the opening ceremony in person, President Xiomara Castro of Honduras called on the forum to come up with holistic solutions to eradicate hunger in the short to medium term; President Andrzej Duda of Poland paid tribute to the engagement of young people in transforming food systems to make them more responsive to the needs of humanity; President Carlos Manuel Vila Nova of Sao Tome and Principe stressed that as one of the small island developing states, his country brings a particular voice to the forum, advocating for increased global cooperation to accelerate the transformation of the system. agri-food.
Other heads of state and government who addressed the assembly virtually included Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, President of Panama; José Pedro Castillo Terrones, President of Peru; Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Patrizio Bianchi, Italy’s Minister of Public Education, and violinist and climate advocate Lea Bruckner were among other speakers.
The difference with this year’s WFF is that it comprises three distinct, yet interconnected streams, each addressing and supporting the transformation of global agrifood systems from a unique perspective:
The WFF Global Youth Forum will focus on the theme “A healthy diet. A healthy planet”. The aim is to raise awareness among young people and trigger action on the link between the climate crisis and access to safe and nutritious food and healthy diets. The Science and Innovation Forum will highlight the crucial role of science, technology and innovation in transforming our agri-food systems and eradicating hunger. It will celebrate the latest developments in science and innovation and explore scientific advances to accelerate our implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Hand in hand investment forum provide a platform for national authorities, global and national public and private entities, multilateral development banks and donors, to explore funding opportunities for the Hand in hand initiative. It is one of FAO’s flagship programmes, aiming to match funding sources with countries where investment in agrifood systems is most needed.
The forum comes like the latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) A report by FAO and its partners estimated that up to 828 million people faced hunger in 2021, 46 million more than in 2020 and 150 million more than in 2019.
Multiple drivers of the food crisis
Among the factors driving the spiraling global food security crisis are conflict, the pandemic and the impacts of the climate crisis. The problems are further exacerbated by soaring inflation and dramatically rising fertilizer prices, threatening to create the scenario of a food access crisis now, and the likelihood of a availability and accessibility of food for the next season.
The World Food Forum provides a crucial and relevant platform to address these challenges; how to transform agri-food systems for healthier diets is a key theme of the Youth Forum; many of the countries most vulnerable to the current food security crisis are presenting their case for crucial investments as part of the Hand in Hand Investment Forum and how to ensure that small producers in the Global South can access and afford Technological advances to bridge the ‘technology divide’ is part of the focus areas of the Science and Innovation Forum.
This year, the WFF – an independent global network originally conceived by the FAO Youth Committee – has already organized a series of events with participants from all corners of the world. The Youth Assembly held consultations, identified policy priorities for all regions and appointed regional focal points to provide strategic direction. There are innovation prizes, the Transformative Research Challengewith a new PPR Special Price (Peste des Petits Ruminants Contagious Animal Disease) and the Startup Innovation Award in partnership with Xtreme Tech Challenge, with a new award for Resilience Innovation. The WFF has also established a Young Scientists Group, with 20 outstanding young scientists under the age of 35, aimed at building awareness and education.
Since its inception, the forum has organized events on themes such as politics, innovation, education, cuisine and the arts and has engaged thousands of young people and youth advocates from around the world in more than 200 countries and territories. It has hosted start-ups and research centers competitions to strengthen new solutions, organized a film festival and concerts to raise awareness of pressing issues, organized an art exhibition, roundtables and assemblies with youth and indigenous groups, and organized educational masterclasses featuring leaders global.
The common thread was the critical importance of creating a space where young people’s voices are heard and their ideas can be turned into action.
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FAO News and Media (Rome)
FAO News and Media (Rome)