Young leaders at UN conference play an active role in food security

At the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (UN CFS) in Rome, Australian Laura Grubb and Kenyan Samba Ouma Zablon, two young delegates from Bayer CropScience’s Youth-Ag Summit, were given a platform to present the “Canberra Youth Ag-Declaration”. A group of 100 young, passionate ambassadors from 33 countries developed this declaration while discussing modern, sustainable agriculture during the August Summit in Australia.

During an event hosted by Matthew Worrell, Minister Counsellor of Australia, both delegates presented a detailed agenda summarizing the outcomes of the Youth Ag-Summit which took place under the theme ‘How to feed a hungry planet’.

“Today is World Food Day, which reminds us of the fact that there are still about 800 million people on our planet that do not have enough to eat. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals target ending world hunger and achieving food security and improved nutrition by promoting sustainable agriculture by 2030 as one of their core goals,” explained Liam Condon, CEO at Bayer CropScience.

The corresponding challenges stem from local infrastructure and storage capacities, access to high-value seed and fertilizers, knowledge about modern crop protection and good agricultural practice on to training in the use of innovative technologies. “To develop effective solutions we need extensive collaboration between the public and private sectors, together with representatives of civil society. Young people with passion and inspiring ideas have a huge potential to help drive society and the industry towards achieving the sustainable development goals of the United Nations,” Condon stressed.

The Declaration includes five key priority themes and is intended to motivate industry change:

1. Boost education and skills building: Develop a fair and open multi-channel platform for formal and informal educators in the agricultural industry to build greater skills through ongoing education.

2. Communicate the value of agriculture careers and farming: Globally promote the importance of agriculture and enhance the image of farmers and the breadth of opportunities in the agricultural industry.

3. Promote socially acceptable and responsible consumption: Empower consumers to directly improve the sustainability of supply chains by developing educational platforms and resources which promote the responsible use of current resources and drive social change.

4. Innovate for sustainable intensification and new production systems: Create a global network that links young innovators to agricultural needs to drive knowledge, information sharing and the funding of solutions.

5. Foster personal and organisational leadership: Boost youth impact and leadership skills through membership of relevant youth ag-organisations to provide experience, mentorship and support for youth vision.

Sharing thoughts and opinions

The key event for the two delegates, Laura and Samba, was the side event organized by Future Farmers Network and Bayer on the topic “Empowering youth to pursue a career in agriculture: A private-public approach”. This panel discussion, which was organized by the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM), was hosted by Matthew Worrell, Minister Counsellor of Australia, and included in addition to Bayer representatives the CEO of the youth ag-organization 4-H Canada, Shannon Benner. “We see that youth want to play an important role in the future of agriculture and in addressing the needs of their global community. That’s why strategic partnerships between NGOs, public and private entities is key to building awareness for talent development in agriculture”, said Shannon Benner.

Moreover, Laura and Samba had many more unique opportunities to spread their message during the CFS conference. Among the highlights were a meeting with Her Excellency Gerda Verburg, the Chair of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security, speaking during a CFS special plenary event on youth talent and skills development and a participation in an event on Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture.

Taking home new perspectives and ideas

Samba Ouma Zablon who is an undergraduate Commerce student from Kenya said: “Representing the developing world here at the UN makes me feel incredibly honored. Especially to present the Declaration that provides a useful framework and recommendations for empowering and connecting with young people for maximum impact on global food security. It is developed by youth for youth and is hopefully now passed along to more young people. My personal commitments remain to be based on the needs of my community because that is where I can drive change.”

Laura Grubb, an Australian Animal Science student, is actively involved in the field of agriculture, in particular sustainable animal farming. Being part of this one-of-a-kind experience in Rome has been very special to her. “Besides the fact that I have never been to Europe, attending a UN conference has been a phenomenal and humbling experience! This event allowed me to have an insight into a global system which has a significant impact on a variety of societies and sectors globally. I have met so many inspiring people from all backgrounds and cultures. I will certainly take home many new ideas and initiatives on food security and sustainability and can’t wait to share with all the other Youth Ag-Summit delegates and my community!”

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