“For the youth, this summit’s highlight has to be to showcase that the youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, not the leaders of the future, we are acting as leaders today. And for the transformation of our food systems, the youth are acting, NOW. With just under 9 growing seasons to 2030, this generation, the largest the world has ever seen, has proven that they hold the key to the transformation of food systems. It is imperative that they are meaningfully involved and are as the heart of this transformation” – Victor Mugo (Kenya)
“Nothing about us, without us” – Marie-Claire Graf (Switzerland)
“There are challenges that often impede the growth as a result of lack of information, resources, and finance” – Lavetanalagi Seru (Fiji)
“You need to do more than to just mention young people in speeches, you need to show up for us” – Sophie Healy-Thow (Ireland)
“Youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow. We are also taking action today” – Victor Mugo (Kenya)
“The current progress made on climate change is not enough, youth are not just stakeholders but rights holders” – Yugratna Srivastava (India)
“We need to respect the limits of the earth and adapt production and consumption, to guarantee the rights of future generations”- Jessica Vega Ortega (México)”
“We need support from the private sector, agencies and others to combat food system challenges” – Lavetanalagi Seru (Fiji)
“The present and the future of food systems is in our hands” – Victor Mugo (Kenya)
“We are very proud to say that we, the youth constituency has engaged with over 10,000 young people on food systems issues across the globe” – Marie Claire Graf (Switzerland)
“Currently a healthy diet is a luxury, and I believe this to be the greatest injustice” – Sophie Healy-Thow (Ireland)
“We have seen massive youth mobilization for climate action, and the sustainable future youth are asking for will not be possible without urgent transformation of our food systems” – Lana Weidgenant (Brazil and the US)
“Due to our environmental concerns, youth are shifting to sustainable diets faster than any other generation. We are taking the lead” – Lana Weidgenant (Brazil and the US)
“I strongly believe that young people like me can be a driver for change in the world. I think there is a gap between policy makers and the demands of the public at large, especially young people. This gap can be bridged if we bring young people to a leading position. And for this, the world must hear from us (the youth). Coming from a developing country, I know the need to strike the right balance between eating healthy diets and how much one can afford them, between the choice I make and the money I have.” – Dipty Chowdhury (Bangladesh)
“To realize a world free from malnutrition in all its forms, we (the youth) must play an active role through nutrition advocacy and also directly participating in food production and through the supply chains. We have the voice, the power and the numbers to ensure food systems that are effective and efficient worldwide.” – Jane Napais (Kenya)
“I am taking actions by advocating, proposing and developing more sustainable solutions for people and the earth, not for money and charity. But I, we, can’t do it alone, we need more young people to be involved. To improve nutrition and the whole food system, there is no magic. We create magic because we are young and we have the power to be and to bring change now. We need food to live but the food system and nutrition also needs us for us and for others. Together we can achieve “ZERO HUNGER” -SDG2.” – Narindra Andriamahefalison (Madagascar)
“Indigenous peoples’ food systems are and must be recognized as an innovative solution. ” Jessica Vega Ortega (México)
“We have seen the increased momentum of youths in food systems, now more than ever. But we need to keep this momentum alive until we reach sustainable food systems. So, there is an urgent need for a formal, permanent and institutionalized mechanism for young people to come together and contribute to SDG 2 and food systems policy processes.” – Pramisha Thapaliya (Nepal)
“Its going to be your world, its best if we work together” – highlights from the Act4Food Act4Change roundtable between youth and business leaders. Day 2 of the UNFSS Pre-Summit
This week youth leaders from the Act4Food Act4Change campaign spoke to business leaders about how they can work together to create a sustainable, healthy and just food system.
The dialogue happened on day two of the United Nation’s Food Systems Pre-Summit, a seminal event that brings together global decision makers and other stakeholders (academics, businesses, civil society, farmers, indigenous groups and young people) to discuss for the first time how we should solve the growing crises that our global food system is creating.
During the dialogue Act4Food Act4Change youth leaders from Canada, India and Zimbabwe spoke to business leaders from Compass Group, Oatly and Bayer about some of the challenges that these businesses have when it comes to addressing issues that affect our food system. Getting more people to eat plant-based foods, better education around healthy food and in youth leader Webster’s words “making farming sexy for young people”, were some of the key challenges identified by both businesses and youth. One conversation between Deanne Brandstetter and Priya Prakash spoke about unhealthy foods in cafeterias with Deanne stressing “educating young people on healthy food has been so important. Students love learning by doing! Teaching kitchens are very important in what we do in Compass Group, active participation is key for sustainability messaging and diversifying diets”.
The critical role that the food system plays in shaping our planetary and individual health is now undisputed. The food system is responsible for 30% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions and is the primary driver of biodiversity loss, with agriculture threatening 86% species at risk of extinction. Three billion people worldwide cannot afford a healthy diet, whilst at the same time 1 in 3 people are living with overweight or obesity. Poor diets are responsible for about 22% of adult deaths globally.
It is youth who will feel the brunt of these issues if they continue unabated. As things stand young people are at risk of inheriting a planet that will be over four degrees warmer. Leveraging the opportunities created by the UNFSS and other key summits this year (COP26 and Nutrition for Growth are two other major international policy events in 2021), young people who care about a range of different issues that affect the food system have gathered together to create a global pledgeand a list of ‘Actions 4 Change’ that they want businesses and governments to take in order to fix the broken food system. Speaking at the event, Priya Prakash, who is one of the youth leaders for Act4Food Act4Change and a successful entrepreneur in India said: “We as youth will be presenting our priority Actions 4 Change at the UNFSS, that is really exciting as this is our chance to have our voices heard at the highest level and to hold businesses and government accountable for creating the food systems that we all deserve!”.
Young people around the world are all still voting on their top Actions 4 Change, but this event at the UNFSS pre-summit marked an important moment where young people could talk to businesses about their list of actions so far and have meaningful dialogue about how businesses and youth can work together more productively. Cecelia McAleavey from Oatly and Taylor Quinn, another youth leader from Canada, spoke about the importance of helping consumers to make informed choices when it came to buying plant-based foods with Taylor making a valid point that “Our food systems are so complex, but at the end of the day we need to look at whether healthy food products are affordable to consumers”.
The dialogue was rich and varied, but what was most exciting was the businesses genuine interest in hearing what the youth leaders had to say and the businesses desire to work together with the youth to achieve the Actions 4 Change and ultimately, to fix our food system. As Cristina Alonso from Bayer so brilliantly put it, “Its going to be your world, its best if we work together”.