FAO Director-General: The future of food belongs to the young people of today

QU Dongyu addressed the Y20 Summit, the official G20 engagement group for young people

19 July 2021, Rome - The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) QU Dongyu emphasized the role of young people as a key driver towards the transformation of agri-food systems and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, as he spoke today at the Y20 Summit, the official G20 engagement group for youth.

"There is one concept that cannot be overlooked when it comes to the future state of food, agriculture and the path to achieve Zero Hunger for all: the future of food belongs to the young people of today!" stressed the Director-General. "It is therefore our responsibility to join forces and ensure that the youth inherit a world where affordable, nutritious food is available for everyone, everywhere."

The Y20 Summit, taking place in Italy from July 19 - 23, aims to give young people the opportunity to express their vision and ideas to the G20 Heads of State and Government. It addresses many areas of key relevance for the work of the G20, particularly topics related to entrepreneurship, labour, youth, women's empowerment, urban policies, sustainable development and the fight against inequalities.

QU Dongyu stated that more systematic and meaningful inclusion of youth in decision-making processes is  instrumental to transforming agri-food systems and achieving the SDGs. "I am a firm believer in the necessity to leverage the passion, creativity and commitment of youth as a key driver towards positive change," he said.

The cities of Milan and Bergamo are hosting the Y20 Summit over the course of the week, with a focus on three priorities: Innovation, digitalization and future of work; Sustainability, climate and energy; and Inclusion and equal opportunities. Youths' recommendations will be reflected  in a final communiqué that will be handed over to the current Italian G20 Presidency on the last day of the summit.

Other speakers included Alberta Pelino, Y20 Chair and President of the Young Ambassadors Society; Giuseppe Sala, Mayor of Milan; Massimo Gaudina, Representative of Milan to the European Commission; Enrico Giovannini, Italian Minister of Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility; Alessandro Spada, President of Assolombarda; and Diana Bracco, President and CEO of Bracco Group.

FAO's work with young people

In his speech at the event, the FAO Director-General also took the opportunity to highlight some of the ways the Organization routinely supports and engages young people as part of its work. He drew attention to the establishment, for the first time in FAO history, of a FAO Youth Committee,in September 2019, and the launch of the World Food Forum (WFF) in March this year, which was conceived by the Youth Committee.

The WFF, whose flagship event will be a week-long celebration from 1 to 6 October this year, features a range of interactive online events, networks and content platforms in the areas of cooking, education, film, innovation, music and policy. It gathers major youth groups, influencers, companies, academic institutions, non- profits, governments, media and the public to drive awareness, foster engagement and advocacy, and mobilize resources in support of agri-food systems transformation.

The Director-General also drew attention to FAO's hosting of the Youth and United Nations Global Alliance (YUNGA), a partnership formed by UN agencies and youth organizations, and the First Global Indigenous Youth Forum, which took place over three days in June 2021.

Furthermore, FAO provides capacity development for young family farmers to increase their active engagement in decision-making processes; and to strengthen their participation and leadership role in rural organizations. In this regard, the Organization has recently launched the FAO Rural Youth Action Plan, developed in collaboration with governments, UN entities and youth organizations.

The Y20 Summit has been coordinated by the Young Ambassadors Society, the association responsible for the youth engagement groups of the G7/G20 Summits for Italy, and supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The main goal of YAS is to give voice to young generations and their ideas, and to introduce young people to international politics and diplomacy.

Photo: ©FAO/
Y20 Summit. (Composite photo from left): FAO Director-General QU Dongyu; Alberta Pelino, Y20 Chair; Giuseppe Sala, Mayor of Milan; Massimo Gaudina; Enrico Giovannini, Italian Minister of Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility; Alessandro Spada, President of Assolombarda; Diana Bracco, President and CEO of Bracco Group; Roberto Cingolani, Italian Minister for Ecological Transition; Martina Calleri, Moderator.