FAO Liaison Office in Brussels

Empowering youth food systems leaders: FAO Brussels side event at the World Food Forum


The FAO Liaison Office in Brussels, in partnership with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Youth Mediterranean and Generation Climate Europe, hosted a side event at the World Food Forum (WFF) during the Flagship Event Week. The WFF flagship event took place from 17 to 21 October at the Headquarters of FAO in Rome, to harness the passion and power of youth to identify solutions and incite positive actions for agrifood systems. .

With the theme ‘Healthy Diets. Healthy Planet’, this year’s Forum brought together leaders from several European youth organizations to discuss and suggest how young people can contribute to promoting sustainable food practices, reducing food waste, and creating a healthy world with good food for all.

‘’Never before has there been such a singular opportunity for leveraging the passion and energy of youth for a better food future,’’ said Paulo DeLima, Liaison Officer from the FAO Liaison Office in Brussels, opening the session.

‘’Sharing a meal is love. You can know someone through their food. We can have different approaches and cultures of food, but by sharing we can get to know each other,” said Martina Razzaboni, Network Coordinator at SDSN Youth Mediterranean.

‘’It is important to connect people with nature and food production. In Florence, we do this through our vegetable garden,” commented Celeste Righi Ricco, Co-Founder and Head of Partnerships at Change For Planet, an Italian non-profit organization run by youth interested in sustainable development. “People can come to experience what it means to produce sustainably, witnessing the whole production cycle, from seed to fruits, vegetables and back. Also, kids visit our garden. It is amazing to see how easy is for them to understand such a complex message.’’

Food policy and the transition towards more efficient and sustainable agrifood systems were topics of the discussion that sparked enthusiasm and innovative ideas during the side event.

“Why should we be engaged in food policy? We will be the one living in tomorrow’s world, a world that is designed by others today. It is essential to make youth voices heard in the food policy arena,’’ said Francesco Brusaporco, representative of the Young Ambassadors Society and member of the Italian delegation to the Youth 20 (Y20) 2022.

“As a sustainability advocate, I try to contribute in as many ways as possible to help the transition towards a more social, inclusive, fair and nature-positive food system,” said Lisanne Van Oosterhoud, World Food Forum Champion and European Climate Pact Ambassador. “For example, I had the opportunity to take part in a Food Cycle event, where we transported sustainably produced chocolate to local shops with a group of cyclists’’.

“As consumers, we can be great change-makers,” observed Maria Silvia Romanin, Project Officer on Food at Generation Climate Europe. “But we should not only rely on individual actions – we need systemic change. It is important to sort your waste correctly, especially organic waste; So we can use it again as a resource’’.

The event was moderated by Nicoletta Merlo, Member of the Agriculture, Rural development and the Environment section and of the Coordination Group for the Year of Youth, EESC. ‘’We should thank young people for bringing sustainability to the heart of the EU agenda; and because young people shouldn't be left to deal with the consequences of unsustainable policies they didn't contribute to design,’’ she added, before closing the event.

You can read more about the World Food Forum here.