22 September 2021, Rome: Just days after the UN Food Systems Summit in New York (September 23), the youth led World Food Forum (WFF) holds its first flagship event in Rome on October 1-5, bringing together people from diverse sectors around the world to galvanize global action following up to the Summit.
The five-day flagship event aims to spur actions by youth to help shape the future of food and agriculture. Speakers will include Pope Francis, Queen Letizia of Spain, Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of UN General Assembly Abdulla Shahid and FAO Director-General QU Dongyu.
The Forum features many youth leaders from the world of farming and beyond. They will be joined by influencers, celebrities, business and civil society leaders. It includes performances or demonstrations by Nigerian singer and songwriter Brymo, German musician Keye Katcher, vegan model and influencer Natalie Prabha, chef and writer Carla Lalli Music, Poet Meera Dasgupta and others. Participants from the private sector include Ramon Laguarta, CEO of PepsiCo, Kimbal Musk, Co-Founder and Chairman of Big Green, The Kitchen Restaurant Group and Square Roots, and Frank Giustra, Co-Chair of the International Crisis Group.
By youth and for youth
The youth-led World Food Forum empowered by the Youth Committee of FAO was created as an independent network of partners forging a global movement to restore our agri-food systems.
Climate change, ongoing conflicts, slowdowns and recessions are the leading causes behind the increase of hunger of up to 161 more million people to a total of 811 million in 2020, which is intensifying in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The younger generations are the ones that will be left having to deal with such challenges, but they are also the ones better placed to come up with the solutions.
Maximo Torero, FAO Chief Economist and Chair of FAO Youth Committee, points out that to resolve the huge challenge our agri-food systems face today we need new ways of thinking and working together.
“The ingenuity and energy of global youth are one of our biggest resources. Tapping into this potential energy through initiatives like the World Food Forum is essential to overcoming global hunger,” Torero said ahead of the event’s launch.
The World Food Forum is using innovative ways to discover and scale up young people’s most promising ideas. It’s also providing young talents with tools and resources.
The Transformative Research Challenge, for example, provides young researchers with mentors and publicizes their work to help translate their ideas into top-notch research papers, grant proposals and policy suggestions. The Startup Innovation Awards connects entrepreneurs with leaders in the investment, technology and policy communities. The Masterclasses provide lessons like The Success Mindset, Food Systems and Nutrition Education, and Blockchain 101.
The aim is to help young people build essential skills and foster dialogue among students, scientists, entrepreneurs, investors, UN experts, and parliamentarians the world over.
On the opening day of the event (1 October), FAO and the Government of Switzerland will announce the winners of the second edition of the International Innovation Award for Sustainable Food Systems. Individuals, private companies and institutions were invited to submit their proposals for the following two categories: i) excellence in digitization and innovation for sustainable food systems and ii) innovation that specifically empowers youth in sustainable food systems. More than 400 nominations from 83 countries were submitted.