27 April 2023, Rome: The World Food Forum today officially unveiled its theme for 2023: “Agrifood systems transformation accelerates climate action” and launched its activities for the year culminating in a series of global events, competitions and actions taking place from 16-20 October at the Rome headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The announcements were made at a side-event organized on the sidelines of the 172nd Session of the FAO Council, and in the support of the UN’s concurrent Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, sub-titled: “Youth Leadership: agrifood systems transformation accelerates climate action”.
“Last year, one in ten people went to bed hungry, while nearly 3.1 billion people survived on starchy staples because they could not afford fruits and vegetables. Two in three children do not have enough nutrition to grow to their full potential. Countries can take concerted action to reverse these grim trends by transforming their agrifood systems harnessing its immense potential for positive impact reducing poverty, hunger and inequalities. At the same time they can choose pathways of transformation of their agrifood systems that minimize the trade-offs to our environment, biodiversity and climate,” said Máximo Torero, FAO Chief Economist and Chair of the FAO Youth Committee, in his opening remarks. He emphasized that transforming agrifood systems is a central part of the global climate solution, and young people are the heart of it as they act “as the inheritors of these challenges, but also as innovators and advocates for change.”
Climate change is impacting on the global challenge to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Currently, agrifood systems account for one-third of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, 90 percent of global deforestation and 70 percent of water use globally, and are the single greatest cause of terrestrial biodiversity loss, putting pressure on food value chains. Food is also the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills and we lose or waste enough food to feed 1.3 billion hungry people every year.
Many of the speakers at the FAO Council side-event today, including experts, youth leaders from the UN’s Rome-based Agencies, and youth representatives from UN Member countries underscored the comprehensive actions that are necessary to transform agrifood systems and make them more sustainable, from production to consumption. They also stressed the role young people are playing, can further participate in and even lead, including actions such as, but not limited to:
- sustainable production of food,
- reduction of food loss and waste,
- sustainable water management, and
- sustainable resource management.
- The 2023 World Food Forum
Launched in 2021, the World Food Forum, an independent, youth-led global network created by the FAO youth committee and facilitated by FAO, aims to empower young people to actively transform agrifood systems to achieve the SDGs. It acts as an ongoing youth network in global food governance and serves as a global knowledge center and innovation lab, fostering and inspiring youth-led solutions, which can create meaningful impact on the ground.
Over the past two years, the WFF has identified powerful ideas, scientific and evidence-based knowledge, innovations, policies and solutions, while forging new partnerships and investment opportunities to positively transform our agrifood systems for the benefit of everyone, everywhere.
The WFF will continue to expand its reach in 2023, and draw a clear connection to the theme of climate action, while the global events in October will again encompass the Global Youth Forum, the FAO Hand-in-Hand Forum and the FAO Science and Innovation Forum to foster an intergenerational dialogue among agrifood stakeholders, and advance bold and actionable solutions to catalyze the transformation of our agrifood systems to enhance climate action.
“The Forum will further highlight the centrality of science, technology and innovation for agrifood systems transformation,” said Ismahane Elouafi, FAO Chief Scientist. “Science is central in allowing us as humans to produce more with less, to fight hunger while conserving our natural resources. By bringing together a diversity of perspectives based on science, along with fostering dialogue and debates between generations and disciplines, we can work together to chart a just and positive transformation of our agrifood systems, based on evidence.”
Elouafi, together with Torero are among the speakers scheduled to participate in a 2 May 2023 WFF side-event of the UN’s 8th Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals titled: “Bolstering climate action through agrifood systems transformation in the context of COVID-19 recovery”. The side event will be hybrid, hosted at the UN headquarters in New York, with a second in-person component at FAO headquarters in Rome.
The objective of this side event is to highlight the importance of engaging global youth in science, technology, and innovation, as well as identifying and nurturing innovative solutions to accelerate agrifood systems transformation in the overall context of COVID-19 recovery, to boost climate action and achieve the 2030 Agenda goals. Speakers include senior leaders from FAO, along with the winners of the WFF’s Transformative Research Challenge (TRC) and Startup Innovation Awards, powered by Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC), as well as the WFF Young Scientists Group (YSG) and members of the newly launched Youth Food Lab incubator, in an intergenerational dialogue on the importance of investing in youth in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).
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