DUBAI: Against a backdrop of the overlapping environmental, political and economic challenges confronting humanity, young delegates will meet next month during the World Food Forum to explore sustainable solutions to the problems facing agriculture and food systems.
The organizers describe the five-day forum, which will run from Oct. 1-5, as an “independent global network of partners, created for and led by youth, to spark a movement to transform our agri-food systems and achieve the (UN’s) Sustainable Development Goals, including zero hunger.”
The event, conceived by the youth committee of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, aims to encourage the inclusion of young people in the decision-making process surrounding food security and sustainability.
Although enough food is produced to feed the entire population of the world, about 700 million people continue to go hungry. This ongoing crisis has been exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finding innovative solutions that can help to create more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems is key, experts say, to ending hunger and meeting the needs of a global population that is forecast to grow by 2 billion by 2050.
“We need to think outside the box and ‘futurize’ our way of fighting hunger,” Qu Dongyu, the FAO’s director-general, said on Wednesday. “We need to tap into a new source of energy … so we launched the youth committee as a way of empowering youth.”
He added that it aims to give “young colleagues at FAO this power and freedom to truly lead.” He believes that the future of the 7.9 billion people on the planet will depend on the engagement of young people and the harnessing of their passion and creativity to enhance food security and resolve the global food crisis.
Solutions need to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns through the development of efficient and inclusive food and agriculture supply chains at local, regional and global levels, experts say.
The goal is to develop resilient and sustainable agri-food systems in a changing climate and environment. These will involve promoting nutritious food and increasing access to healthy diet options; protecting, restoring and encouraging the sustainable use of ecosystems; combating climate change; and encouraging inclusive economic growth by reducing inequalities.
Fabiana Dadone, Italy’s minister for youth policies, said the startup business community, which is dominated by younger people, is “enabling us to look into fundamental solutions in order to bring together the environment, food and agriculture,” issues she believes are close to their hearts.
“It is very important to support (youth) by providing incentives, not only through national policies but also by organizing these forums” that offer them the chance to be part of the decision-making process, she added.
The WFF will host speakers from a range of disciplines in keeping with its commitments to enlist and draw on the expertise of young people from all segments of society and its inclusive spirit.
The event will include six tracks, including a Youth Action Assembly and an innovation lab, along with sessions on education, cooking, film and music. It will also feature talks, concerts and workshops.