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The World Food Forum launches its 2023 cycle with a side event at the FAO Council

The World Food Forum launches its 2023 cycle with a side event at the FAO Council

On 27 April, the World Food Forum (WFF) officially launched its 2023 cycle through a side event at the 172nd session of the FAO Council, in support of the ECOSOC Youth Forum. Among other things, the event served to announce the Forum's planned activities and its yearly theme "Agrifood systems transformation accelerates climate action", focusing on creating efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems to combat climate change, increase biodiversity and restore ecosystems.

The side event highlighted young people's crucial role in creating policies and taking action to change our food and agriculture systems through practical solutions. In his opening remarks, FAO's Chief Economist Maximo Torero emphasized, "Young people are at the heart of [the problem] because they are the ones that will live the consequences of what is happening right now. Young people will be the ones to benefit if things improve and the ones that will pay the cost if things don't improve." He urged youth to bring technical solutions to the table and to be part of the solution to achieve the desired transformation of our agrifood systems.

The first panel of the event focused on youth in agrifood policy spaces, with Italian Youth Delegate to the UN Giulia Tariello looking back at her experience in these spaces and analyzing key areas that need to change in order to ensure meaningful youth representation. The panel then saw the US Youth Observer to the UN Himaja Nagireddy, WFF Youth Policy Board Member Tess Hayton and FAO Sustainable Development Specialist Claudia Scuriatti joining live from New York, where they had been attending the ECOSOC Youth Forum. They highlighted the inclusiveness of the conference, but noted lower overall participation from Member States and UN officials compared to other UN conferences and commissions, with more statement offerings in sessions and side events and less inclusive discussion spaces.

The event then moved to the second panel on youth leadership in agrifood action, highlighting several youth-led initiatives. The panel  served to announce the new WFF Youth Policy Board (YPB), which will work on the development of key youth policy priorities and guide the work of the WFF's Youth Action track and Youth Assembly. Together with the YPB, the WFF will soon launch a Youth Pledge to fall under FAO's 123 pledge on food loss and waste, which will include three steps: 1) learn about food waste; 2) act by sharing tangible ways to fight the issue; and 3) track local action to contribute to global impact. Collective action is necessary to make a difference and become a catalytic force for change.

The WFF also highlighted its recently launched incubation programme, the Youth Food Lab, as a means to empower youth to develop innovative solutions for ongoing agrifood systems issues.  The event concluded with the announcement of the WFF's new localization strategy aimed at developing local youth action through the creation of WFF National Chapters.

Going forward, the WFF will continue to shed light on the importance of youth engagement in policy and action and highlight their central role in transforming our agrifood systems with actionable solutions.