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Global youth at the helm of transforming agrifood systems


At the ECOSOC Youth Forum 2022, the World Food Forum (WFF) launched its 2022 cycle, with FAO Chief Economist Máximo Torero calling on youth to catalyze change towards the dual goal of securing healthy diets and addressing the climate crisis.

The World Food Forum (WFF), the world’s largest youth-led movement working for a better food future, launched its 2022 cycle at today’s UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum side event, ‘Healthy Diets, Healthy Planet: youth-led action for a better food future’.

Delivering scene-setting remarks was FAO Chief Economist, Máximo Torero. He highlighted the need for change, speaking on the critical importance of working collectively, creatively, and in solidarity in addressing the many challenges and shocks we face today, from climate change and environmental degradation, to hunger and conflict, including on the heels of the war in Ukraine and its impact on global food security.

“It is important that we look to these shocks and we find opportunities in them. It is important that we continue acting to transform our agrifood systems”, Torero said, inviting youth leaders to not be distracted by these competing challenges from the long-term changes we must pursue. 

“There is a need to think and act in a creative manner to address the multiple pressing challenges our world is facing, and youth have demonstrated that they can be architects and innovators of their own realities and in their own sectors,” he added.

Delivering on an interconnected 2030 Agenda, with youth ideas and resolve leading the way

The Chief Economist underscored the importance of working hand-in-hand to foster more efficient, sustainable, inclusive, and resilient agrifood systems as a driving force in delivering on the SDGs, with youth at the helm.

Transforming agrifood systems needs to be about producing more food with greater socio-economic benefits and less impact on the environment and natural resources. This, Torero argued, can only succeed through the engagement global youth and their knowhow and innovative drive.

Food and agrifood systems play a fundamental role in the health of our planet and of humanity, and our current way of producing and consuming food is taking a heavy toll on our climate, biodiversity, and nutrition. Indeed, the interrelation between climate change and stable access to adequate, safe, sufficient and nutritious food and healthy diets cannot be denied.

“We need to move in a sustainable way, making sure we reduce emissions at the same time. We need to be sure we minimize all the tradeoffs. We want to produce more in a more efficient and more sustainable way,” Torero stressed, highlighting the potential of many countries to increase agricultural productivity, diversify their production, and build much-needed resilience to future shocks. 

Responding to the climate-food security nexus 

Looking to the WFF 2022 cycle, Torero urged resolve to shift production methods that maximize sustainability together with shifting consumption patterns to ensure healthy diets and pursue a more equitable and sustainable use of our natural resources. He pointed to how we currently produce enough food to feed everyone in the world, yet there are still around 800 million people going hungry. Preventing food loss and waste must also be part of the solution, he added.

Today’s event helped continue a dialogue between youth and national governments, major stakeholder groups and the UN System, contributing to important policy discussions that will propel the agrifood systems transformation we urgently need. 

“This is why FAO was eager and proud to support the launch of the World Food Forum one year ago, here at the ECOSOC Youth Forum. In one year, the WFF engaged tens of thousands of young people from over 200 countries and territories, creating a strong moment for youth action, and beginning to create and identify new, youth-led solutions,” the Chief Economist said.

About the World Food Forum

Launched in 2021, the World Food Forum is an independent global network of partners, facilitated by FAO. It was created for and is led by youth to spark a global movement that empowers young people to actively shape our agrifood systems, with the aim to achieve the SDGs and a better food future for all. It serves as the premier platform in the world to engage and harness the passion of youth to galvanize action and identify solutions to the growing challenges facing our agrifood systems.

About the ECOSOC Youth Forum

The ECOSOC Youth Forum provides a platform for young people to engage in a dialogue with Member States and other actors on concrete actions to rebuild from COVID-19 and to advance towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Decade of Action. This year, the ECOSOC Youth Forum 2022 convened around the priority theme ‘COVID-19 recovery: Youth taking action for a sustainable future,’ including a review of progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 451415, and 17.

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