Call to Action from the Youth Constituency at the United Nations Food Systems Pre-Summit 2021

Around 10,000 young people from all over the world have been engaging in the lead-up to the United Nations Food Systems Summit, and as the milestone of the Pre-Summit draws to a close, youth make their commitments for food systems transformation loud and clear.

Youth are the majority, more than half of the people in the world are under the age of 30. And their voices must be heard.

As citizens of the world and as engaged youth advocates and youth leaders in The Food Systems Summit process, youth call for ambitious and committed actions to drive urgent food systems transformation.

There is no time to wait. And youth cannot do this alone and invite everyone to join hands with them, particularly member states. 

Youth commitments for food system transformation

  1. That everyone everywhere has access to healthy,  sustainable and resilient food. Youth can make choices everyday to eat more sustainable and nutritious diets and strongly advocate for it within their communities and through social media.
  1. That youth are ready to support, advocate and take action to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss as needed to drive the urgent transformation towards a livable future.
  1. Livelihoods matter. People working in food systems, many of whom are young people, are amongst the hardest working and in many parts of the world, are sadly the ones paid less than minimum or living wages. Youth will continue to advocate for fair and decent wages for people working in food systems. 

Youth recognise that transforming food systems requires collective actions! Towards this effort, youths call for support from governments, businesses, civil society, philanthropy, and other stakeholders to:

  1. Develop policy incentives, increase investment in nutrition and restrict unhealthy food marketing 
  1. Eliminate barriers such as finance, land, and information that prevent young people from meaningfully engaging in different components of food systems. Decision-makers involved in the United Nations Food Systems Summit and those in positions of power should determine how we can increase the minimum wage of people working within food systems especially women and youth.
  1. Call for inter-generational co-leadership of the development of member states’ revised Nationally Determined Contributions that must include food systems

To conclude, youths need a formal and institutionalized platform after the United Nations Food Systems Summit, where all youth and youth organizations working to transform food systems can come together and meaningfully engage in the collective empowerment and decision making processes.

Youth across the globe hope you all realize how urgent this is. Can we count on you to work with youths? 

YOUTH VOICES FROM THE UNITED NATIONS FOOD SYSTEMS SUMMIT PRE-SUMMIT:

“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)

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