Youth Declaration on Food Systems Transformation
Delivered at the UN Food Systems Summit on September 23rd, 2021
With nine harvests left to transform our food systems, we need urgent change for human and planetary health. We, the young people of the world, commit to urgent large-scale action across food systems; but we cannot do this alone.
This is our declaration on food system transformation:
We are hungry for change in our food systems. Young people, in all our diversity, have driven food systems change for years, whether through youth organizations or individual efforts. With this youth declaration, we reemphasize our commitments, and ask that those who hold political and financial power in the food system, including governments and businesses, take action with us.
Our current food system is failing our generation and the planet. We contribute our expertise, passion and energy to drive solutions for a food system that delivers for both current and future generations. Youth are integral and indispensable for creating a healthy, sustainable and equitable food system which delivers on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the ‘Decade of Action’. Foundational to all youth asks is the ongoing need for youth to have a democratic, sustained, and consistent seat at the table– in policy and leadership of food systems.
Over the past year, close to 100,000 young people around the world have leveraged the space provided by the United Nations Food System Summit (UNFSS) to collectively identify critical priorities, outline commitments and call for leadership by governments in food system transformation. Young people were consulted through four main processes: UNFSS Independent Dialogues; an online youth consultation by UNFSS and the World Food Forum; youth organisations conducting their own consultations and reporting back such as Kitchen Connection’s Table Talks and; through the Act4Food Actions 4 Change open voting for global youth actions. This consultation process; including youth priorities and the Youth Act4Food Pledge was shared at the UNFSS Pre-Summit in July 2021 including through a youth statement. This represented a synthesis of the efforts of youth organizations and individuals passionate for urgent change.
These consultations have also brought forward the information we present here
Through this Youth Declaration, we reaffirm our commitments for a better food future. By doing so, we also call for matched and courageous leadership by governments, businesses, civil society and academia to support our vision and take action now.
As youth we commit to 1) Action, 2) Advocacy, and 3) Empowerment to transform food systems. In particular, we commit in the following topic areas:
- Raise awareness for healthy, nutritious and sustainable diets through platforms available to us so that our communities and networks may make informed choices
- Support, advocate and act on climate and biodiversity actions needed to drive urgent transformation towards a livable resilient future
- Continue advocacy for fair and decent wages and social protection for people working in food systems
Youth cannot act alone. Corporations and governments hold more political and financial power than young people in the existing food system. Sustained and meaningful youth engagement in decision-making platforms at all levels of policy and with leadership in all sectors is necessary to achieve an equitable, healthy and sustainable food system.
As youth, we understand that large scale and fundamental transformation of the food system goes beyond individual actions, and we call for leadership by decision-makers in governments, business leaders and other stakeholders to:
- Support healthy and sustainable consumption patterns through:
- Promoting plant-based diets;
- Ensuring every child receives healthy and sustainable food in school and university and;
- Enacting policy measures to improve food environments including increasing marketing of healthy, plant-based foods and restricting marketing and taxing of ultra-processed foods and foods high in fat, salt and sugar.
- Ensure that everyone has access to safe and nutritious food through:
- Providing education and transparency in the true value of food (including environmental and health impacts);
- Supporting farmers to produce healthy food and helping increase productivity for small-holder farmers;
- Supporting women and girls through job opportunities and appropriate pay;
- Eliminating barriers that prevent young people from accessing key resources such as land, jobs, education, finance including enforcing minimum wages and;
- Ensuring that all food system changes are equitable and benefit young people from all backgrounds.
- Create a food system which is resilient to shocks and stresses from climate change, disasters and conflicts through:
- Facilitating production of diverse foods within farms and farming regions to reduce the risk of financial and food crises resulting from climate change;
- Ensuring universal food access as a human right, and;
- Enabling youth leadership in the development and implementation of member states’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) on climate
With this, we, half of the population of the world, welcome you to join us in urgently transforming our food systems.