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Generation changemakers: How youth are transforming the UN Food Systems Summit
This year, the United Nations is convening the first Food Systems Summit aimed at empowering people to leverage food systems to deliver progress on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Building a food system that is healthy, sustainable, and equitable will require buy-in and collective action from key actors across sectors and ages. With youth under 30 accounting for more than half of the world’s population, young people have an instrumental role to play in driving food systems change. Never has a generation been so mobilized on the issues of food and environment and never have these global movements seen such momentum.
Recognizing the role and right of young people to be involved in leading food systems change, the UN has placed youth at the centre of the Summit process, both as vice-chairs of the five Action Tracks and by identifying “youth empowerment” as a priority for the Summit.
As Lana Weidgenant, youth vice-chair for Action Track 2, puts it: “Youth are in the leadership and decision-making for the Food Systems Summit, which is significant. And it is not only us [in the Summit leadership], a young person from anywhere in the world can contribute to the Summit outcomes. Youth empowerment is a top priority across the Summit and youth ideas and asks are being sought out in all spaces.”
So far, young people have contributed to the global discussion on food systems by organizing Youth Food Systems Summit Dialogues, joining panel discussions, Public Forums, and coordinating Youth Forum events. A global team of youth is also working to develop a Youth Pledge that is aligned around the Summit goals. The Pledge will involve and empower other young people from around the world in advocacy and action for food systems transformation.
How are CO-CREATE youth involved?
On May 7th, the CO-CREATE Youth Task Force are taking the international floor and participating in the first regional Dialogue Forum where they will connect with policymakers, business leaders and other high-level stakeholders to discuss their policy ideas. The focus of this Forum will be on restricting marketing of unhealthy food to children and securing high-quality, practice-based nutrition education in schools for all children. These ideas are the forefront of young people’s demands to EU policymakers to build healthier food and physical activity environments, as outlined in the CO-CREATE Youth Declaration. What makes this Forum particularly exciting, is that in light of the UN Food Systems Summit being held this fall, this will also serve as a joint youth-focused Independent UN Food Systems Summit Dialogue.
So, how do I get involved in the Food Systems Summit?
Every day, the community of young people engaged in the Summit is growing and you can be involved.
- Sign up to become a Food Systems Hero: By signing on you commit to learn, share, gather and act for food systems transformation. As a Food Systems Hero, you will also receive the latest news, communication toolkits, instructions on how to organize an independent Food Systems Summit Dialogue and ways you can act. Sign up here.
- Join the Food Systems Summit Community Youth Platform: Join this global community of young people sharing the latest events, information, and opportunities to be engaged in the Summit.
- Provide your ideas on what game-changing solutions can help transform food systems by completing the UN FSS Action Track 2 Survey: By completing this survey, you can help inform game-changing solutions that support the global transition to healthy and sustainable food consumption.
- Youth Independent Food Systems Summit Dialogue: Keep an eye out on the Food Systems Summit Community Youth Platform for opportunities to be involved in dialogues on shifting to healthy and sustainable consumption (Action Track 2). You can also explore Food Systems Summit Dialogues coming up here and have the option of organizing your own independent dialogues on any food systems topics and regions of your interest, by following these steps.
For more information about the Summit, visit here.
By: Lana Weidgenant, youth vice-chair for Action Track 2, Food Systems Summit
- Samantha Nesrallah and Marianna Debelian, EAT