Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition

Remarks by CFS Chair at the EU-IFAD Dialogue on "Investing in youth for a sustainable future in agriculture and food systems"

28 Mar 2023

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Thank you, Genna.

I am delighted to be part of this conversation alongside Commissioner Urpilainen, President Lario, many colleagues present here, and, perhaps more important, the many young people who have joined this dialogue

My gratitude to IFAD for convening us to discuss this critical topic on the role of youth in promoting sustainable food systems and what we should all be doing to strengthen their engagement and employment in food systems.

Indeed, CFS is the global food governance body of the United Nations where governments, about 140 of them today, are joined by other groups including the youth, to deliberate and drive convergence on global policies to address systemic and structural causes of hunger and malnutrition in support of the efforts led by countries.

CFS contributes to the global agenda setting, Countries together with all stakeholders, identify the key global bottlenecks and opportunities that require a policy consensus at the global level.

Then CFS is the space where governments agree on global policy frameworks to solve these challenges.


Last September I met in Kigali with the young leaders of the Africa Connect movement, that gathered 15,000 young people engaged in agriculture and food systems across the continent, one of the most inspiring meetings I have had during my Chairmanship. 

Their voice and aspirations are loud and clear.

1)    First, they actually want to be prosperous and flourish within food-systems. They want to be farmers, food systems entrepreneurs, peasants – I have seen how they identify themselves in different ways. They want to make their living and life, around food systems. They want to access decent work and earn a decent livelihood.

Yet, despite their best efforts, they face serious barriers to access and control land, natural resources, productive assets, markets, insurance and finance, technology and knowledge. They face poor remuneration, income uncertainty, conflicts, climate change and high risks.

In addition, they have limited participation in decision making processes. They have emphasized that solutions have to be FOR the youth, WITH the youth and BY the youth.

2)    Second, they don´t just want to make money. They want to be an active part of caring for solis, for biodiversity, for ecosystems, landscapes, cultures and climate. Be part of the collective effort of building a sustainable world.

This is why it is crucial that CFS agreed, first, to focus all its attention on empowering youth in food systems –by the way, in parallel to a global agreement on voluntary guidelines to empowering women and girls.

Second, CFS undertook a a highly participatory process that involved hundreds of stakeholders -with youth at the center.

Together with the report by the CFS High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (the HLPE-FSN) that provided the scientific basis for the policy work, wide consultations, and difficult negotiations –where government delegates were, actually, young people in many cases.

Now young people count on a global agreement on empowering them to be the present and the future of food systems adopted at the last Plenary of the Committee held at the end of 2022.

As such, these policy recommendations are your tools and resources for advocacy in shaping national policies, investment plan, legislations and development programmes that include you and respond to your needs.

These recommendations are a public good, in the hands of governments, young people, civil society and social movements, businesses and research community,

In a similar way, CFS also agreed on policy recommendations on agroecological and other innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture and food systems”.

Taken together, I believe that they respond to their two key aspirations I mentioned before: empowering them to be prosperous actors within food systems; and doing so in a way that they are at the front line of sustainable food systems.