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The WFF launches its 13th National Chapter in Ireland

The WFF launches its 13th National Chapter in Ireland

In a significant stride towards empowering local youth leadership and action in catalyzing agrifood systems transformation, the World Food Forum (WFF) launched its 13th National Chapter in Ireland, dubbed the “National Youth Food Forum”.

With this launch, Ireland now joins a growing list of WFF National chapters spread across different regions of the globe, including in its pioneering countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United Republic of Tanzania, as well as in Bangladesh, Malawi, Nepal, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Uganda, USA (United States of America) and Zimbabwe.

What are WFF National Chapters

WFF National Chapters are self-organized national youth platforms, convened by a local network of partners in collaboration with FAO decentralized offices, and aligned to the principles and mission of the WFF. Their establishment is motivated by the recognition that the challenges plaguing agrifood systems are unique in every community, city and country. In response, it was crucial to provide a unique youth-focused platform at the country level that would enable young people to identify and address the context-specific needs and challenges in their local and/or national agrifood systems. Since youth need a voice in decisions that affect their lives, the best place to maximize their impact and participation is at the local level. With WFF National Chapters, young people have a platform to initiate and sustain solutions building in their communities, inform policymaking in their countries and regions and build lasting transformation in their local agrifood systems.

Launch Event of the WFF National Chapter in Ireland

To celebrate the momentous occasion, the national chapter was launched in a lively virtual event bringing together a host of youth and other stakeholders, including representatives from educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and the government.

To kick off the event, Prof. Charles Spillane, chair of the Irish Forum of International Agriculture Development (IFIAD) and Sean Bell, the Chief Economist at the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marines, provided an outlook of the global agriculture and food sector while also highlighting the need for meaningful youth engagement, empowerment and employment in the sector.

Kazuki Kitaoka, the WFF Global Coordinator, gave a presentation on the WFF, including its mission, thematic areas of work and flagship events. “Our aim is to catalyze an independent global movement which is not only about youth, but which is shaped and led by youth itself, giving young people a voice and agency to contribute actively to agrifood transformation and the Sustainable Development Goals”, he said. Furthermore, he expounded on WFF’s localization strategy, which adopts a bottom-up approach by shifting power to local youth to self-organize, design and implement initiatives and activities in furtherance of more sustainable agrifood systems. He congratulated the Irish youth for the significant achievement and urged all the stakeholders present to take part in and support the crucial national youth platform.

As WFF National Chapters are centered on true youth leadership and ownership, youth leaders from Ireland presented the chapter’s intended plan of activities and initiatives. To begin with, Treasa Cadogan, who was also the moderator of the session, stressed on young people’s essential role in shaping the agrifood system and elucidated on how WFF National Chapters are a space for youth involved in the agrifood sector to learn, collaborate, share and shape policies. Afterwards, David Giles and Caitlin Breen, two youth representatives that participated at the WFF flagship event, highlighted their engagement at the forum while further explaining how their involvement in a side-event spurred their commitment to set up a National Chapter in their country. As one of their first activities, they shared the process for a youth-led policy consultation that will further inform their future initiatives.

While pledging support to the national chapter, Harry O’Crowley, the International Development Lead at the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marines, emphasized how imperative it is for young people to be involved in the agrifood systems transformation process at the local, global and multilateral levels. Furthermore, he stressed the need for providing youth with a framework and the resources to take ownership of agrifood systems transformation, recalling President Higgins’ statement at the 2023 WFF flagship event: “it is not sufficient to have young people involved; it is also crucial to resource them adequately for them to participate effectively.”

In her closing remarks, Patrice Lucid, the IFIAD Coordinator, further broke down IFIAD’s support to the chapter. As a multistakeholder network in Ireland made up of different Irish organizations engaged in international agriculture, the National Youth Food Forum will contribute as IFIAD’s youth stream.