Youth will take a Lead in the first ever United Nations Food Systems Summit

This blog was written for Um So Planeta and can be read in Portuguese here.

The UN Food Systems Summit is coming up in September of this year. It will be the first of its kind, convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in order to deliver progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Summit also hopes to raise awareness and elevate the discussion on food systems around the world, and bring about actions and accountability from governments and other stakeholders that will utilize food systems change to help us achieve all 17 of the SDGs by 2030.

To bring about this progress, the summit is focused on 5 key  ‘Action Tracks’:

(1) Ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all

(2) Shift to sustainable consumption patterns

(3) Boost nature-positive production

(4) Advance equitable livelihoods

(5) Build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress

The Summit also has a growing champions network that you can join as a Food Systems Hero and an online platform that anyone can engage with in keeping up with updates and input into the food systems conversation

You can also learn more about the Food Systems Summit in general here

This Summit will be a “solutions Summit” and a “people’s Summit” – focused on ideas that can be scaled up to make an impact and on bringing together groups including farmers, Indigenous people, environmental activists, consumers, scientists, and youth.

That’s where Act4Food Act4Change comes in. This youth-led campaign has launched a Global youth pledge and Actions for Change to call on governments to do everything they can to create a healthy and sustainable food system for the future. This unique movement will work by bringing the voice of young people to the summit and beyond to demand the change needed to help reverse climate change and ensure everyone has access to good food.    

The pledge says:

We know our current food systems contribute to ongoing health, climate, and biodiversity crises, and violation of human rights. We will only be able to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with a fundamental transformation of our food systems.

While we as young people have been excluded from most political and economic decision-making processes, we are also the ones who will live the longest with the decisions being made today.

We pledge to act. And we demand urgent large-scale action from others, especially from decision-makers in government and business. 

As youth we #Act4Food #Act4Change to support #GoodFood4All

Please join us in signing the pledge, and if you are a young person under the age of 30,  voting for the food systems actions that matter most to you!

Until July 12, there is also a great opportunity for young people to input directly to the UN Food Systems Summit through an ongoing consultation open to receiving our views. It’s very easy to participate and young people from anywhere in the world can take part, choose the language of their preference at the top right, and give their views on as many or as little food systems related topics as they would like to.

Personally, I am a youth leader from Brazil and championing the Act4Food Act4Change campaign. In the Food Systems Summit, I act as the Youth Vice-Chair of Action Track 2 on sustainable consumption, and there I work with WHO, member states, scientists, civil society, farmers, and more to bring forward solutions on healthy and sustainable eating in the lead up to the UN Food Systems Summit. 

In Brazil, I am a youth climate activist, part of the international youth climate strikes movement but also focusing on our local issues such as deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Some of the work I have been involved with includes helping to start a chapter of the youth-led climate justice organization Zero Hour in Brazil and advocating for people and suppliers to turn away from use of meat that comes from agribusiness involved in deforestation of the Amazon.

This is a big year for food systems and for climate action. As the Brazilian food system often interacts with climate change, this is also a big year for Brazilians to get involved in these international conversations in topics such as hunger, human rights, the environment, the demand for meat that we export to countries like the United States and in Europe, the food system practices that are happening in the Amazon rainforest and how they are impacting Indigenous peoples and small farmers. These are important topics and we have important voices to add to the conversation.

I hope I can encourage other young people in Brazil to get involved, to raise awareness of these big topics and to input into international forums. We are the future and our voice matters in Brazil and around the world.

Finally, I am so proud to inaugurate this new partnership between Um Só Planeta and  Act4Food Act4Change where you readers will get the chance to meet many youth leaders from across the globe every two weeks. Each will share their thoughtful pieces on how we could transform our food systems, and how young people around the world are playing our part to responsibly act with urgency as business as usual no longer works for us nor for our planet. Please feel free to comment and share. We are excited to share our stories and engage with everyone reading. Thank you.

Lana Weidgenant is a youth Act4Food Act4Change leader from Brazil. She is the United Nations Food Systems Summit Vice-Chair of Shifting to Sustainable Consumption Action Track and a youth climate activist with This is Zero Hour.

Follow Lana through her social media here:

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