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WFF at CFS 51: Stakeholders Discuss Transformative Modalities to Translate CFS Youth Policy Recommendations into Tangible Action at the Country Level

WFF at CFS 51: Stakeholders Discuss Transformative Modalities to Translate CFS Youth Policy Recommendations into Tangible Action at the Country Level

During the 51st session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the World Food Forum (WFF) convened a multitude of stakeholders to discuss transformative modalities for shifting the CFS Policy recommendations on promoting youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems to the country level so they can inform local change efforts and processes. The event mobilized currently ongoing, concrete and good practices of youth engagement and called on the CFS membership to more actively support successful and good practice examples and allow for youth to report to CFS on these successes.

Empowering youth action at the local level

To set the scene for the session, Victor Muiru, WFF Head of Local Youth Action, began by emphasizing the vital need for a bottom-up approach to agrifood systems transformation. He presented WFF's National Chapters that are empowering concrete youth actions at the country, local and grassroot level and urged the CFS membership to support such initiatives that are bolstering the usability of CFS policy products on the ground.

Youth transformative lessons and initiatives

In an inspiring Keynote, Ambassador H.E. Marcel Beukeboom, the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations Organizations in Rome, highlighted the history behind the CFS recommendations on youth and stressed some invaluable lessons drawn from the process, including the need for a permanent seat for youth at decision-making tables, fostering intergenerational leadership, enhancing professional networks, strengthening youth capacity and financial support to resource effective youth engagement initiatives. He cautioned against the use of policy jargon that deters effective youth participation and encouraged the recognition that youth are on a learning curve and hence should be supported to ‘learn by doing'.

Moreover, he underscored the Netherlands' commitment to youth inclusion and spotlighted some youth transformative initiatives including the adoption of the Youth at Heart Principles, the country's appointment of an ambassador for youth employment and education, a solid record of inclusion of youth delegates in the country’s official delegation to the United Nations (including having UN Youth representatives on food and biodiversity), as well as the support for the WFF Youth Food Lab and the development of a WFF National Chapter in the country.

While concluding, he inspired the participants to heighten their engagement and advocacy and to keep decision makers accountable. “You're ambitious, and you, of course, want your good ideas to make it to the finishing line. That's not always going to happen, but it should not be by lack of trying".

Connecting the dots – WFF to CFS

In her remarks, the WFF Head of Youth Action and Policy Pramisha Thapaliya focused on connecting the dots between the CFS and the WFF flagship event that was held a week before. While summarizing the outcomes of the forum, she proposed forming country-specific alliances to monitor government actions and ensure accountability. Additionally, she drew attention to the importance of learning from country best practices, highlighting successful approaches that others could emulate.

The panel discussion featured members from youth-led organizations, providing a rich tapestry of insights into collaborative ecosystems. Rayan Kaseem (ACT4Food) delved into the initiative's global consultation involving 300 000 young people and emphasized their advocacy against using food as a weapon of war. Rizka Afif (IFSA) shed light on the organization's expansive commitment to forestry education and engagement across 60 countries. Famba Kazimoto shared insights on the efforts of the WFF National Chapter in Tanzania to align global policies with local priorities, citing a critical need for domestication. Sara Alawia (FAO OCB) concluded by highlighting FAO's climate change knowledge hub, underlining the importance of youth-friendly communication in connecting global policies with local initiatives.

From Policy to Impact

Dr. Nicoline de Haan, Director of the CGIAR Gender Impact Platform, wrapped up the event by emphasizing the pivotal role of global policies in holding individuals accountable, as well as the need for research and data to understand and overcome structural barriers confronting meaningful youth engagement and employment. She emphasized the significance of finding allies across sectors that serve as champions to advance youth issues and called for a nuanced understanding of youth, moving beyond binary perspectives.