Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition

26 May 2022 | Remarks by CFS Chair at PSM Global Youth Forum

26 May 2022

Check against delivery

Thank you, Rosemary,

I would like to start by thanking Rick, Robynne and the entire PSM family for organizing this Global Youth Forum, a culmination of the regional forums you have organized in the last few weeks.

This Forum is well-timed, just ahead of the negotiations on CFS Policy Recommendations on Youth Engagement and Employment in Agriculture and Food Systems that start next Monday.

I hope that discussions like this contribute substantively to shaping the final policy recommendations to be endorsed at CFS Plenary – CFS 50, in October.

Engaging youth in a meaningful way is very close to my heart and is a priority of my term as CFS Chair. Today’s youth live in a world facing a confluence of crises, including climate and environmental change; global inequalities in food security and nutrition; pandemics; and conflicts including the devastating one in Ukraine.

Addressing these challenges cannot be done solely by those who created them using the same means that got us here in the first place. Shaping the future has to be FOR youth, WITH youth and BY youth.

And they are doing it. You are making changes - in villages and cities, learning institutions, civil society movements and businesses. In April this year, I was in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for the FAO Regional Conference for Africa where I met Pablo. A vibrant young man who is transforming his community by producing cheese from goat milk collected from his neighbours. The cheese was tasty! It was as good, if not better, than any I have tasted before. His only dilemma is how to get this cheese to major markets.

Pablo is an example of millions of young people, who are realizing the potential of agriculture and food systems for meaningful engagement and livelihoods, and are tapping into it. However, these youth face many challenges including limited access to and control over land, natural resources, infrastructure, markets, insurance, finance, technology, knowledge and skills, as well as limited participation in decision-making processes. Exposure to risks, limited training and access to capital, low social recognition for agricultural and food workers, and poor wages turn many away from agriculture and from rural areas.

How do we enable and support them?

At CFS, we went out and asked youth what kind of support they need. Their inputs and recommendations are contained in a report launched last year on Promoting Youth Engagement and Employment in Agriculture and Food Systems by the CFS High Level Panel of Experts. Their report forms the basis of the CFS Policy Recommendations on Youth Engagement and Employment in Agriculture and Food Systems that we are working on, with you all.

These policy recommendations, when endorsed, will provide the guidelines for policy actions necessary to boost youth engagement in agriculture and food systems.

The 5 key recommendations are:

  1. Provide an enabling environment for youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems
  2. Secure dignified, attractive and rewarding livelihoods
  3. Increase equitable access to resources, infrastructure and markets
  4. Enhance equitable access to knowledge, educations and skills
  5. Foster sustainable and inclusive innovation

These policy recommendations are envisioned as an ambitious, focused and action-oriented tool that will encourage public policies to foster enabling environments capable of tapping into the energy and skills of youth to make agriculture and food systems become more sustainable and promote food security and nutrition.

As their starting point, they call for recognition of the diversity, intersectionality, and context specificity of youth aspirations, needs and experiences across the globe.

I urge you all to continue engaging in the process of finalizing these policy recommendations. More importantly, I urge the youth to use the policy recommendations once endorsed as a tool to advocate for the right policies, investments and practices by governments, private sector, development partners, and all of us.

Once again, thank you PSM for organizing this forum. As you can tell, the energy of our young people has rubbed off on me. I am hopeful. I am optimistic. I look to our young people to take charge and lead, with their fresh ideas and energy, the transformation of our food systems while creating gainful employment opportunities for themselves. You can count on CFS to be the platform where we can celebrate your experiences and successes.