21 March 2022
A Global Youth Manifesto for food systems transformation
We're proud to launch the Actions4Change!
Our global youth-led movement Act4Food Act4Change has been campaigning for global food systems transformation for almost a year now. We are now proud and excited to announce the launch of our global priority Actions 4 Change!
It all started back in the spring 2021 when the global stage was buzzing about food systems in the lead up to the first ever United Nations Food Systems Summit. Young people everywhere were among the key actors who saw this year as an opportunity to improve our current food system and build pathways for resilience and adaptation. From this momentum came the creation of Act4Food Act4Change, a campaign facilitated by young activists from across the globe, demanding change from decision-makers, who they feel are failing to listen and prioritise the global food crisis.
We know that our current food system is responsible for 30% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions and is the primary driver of biodiversity loss, with agriculture threatening 86% species at risk of extinction. Additionally, three billion people worldwide cannot afford a healthy diet, whilst at the same time 1 in 3 people are living with overweight or obesity.
Outraged by the severity of these issues came the mission of our campaign which is to mobilises the power of young people to call for a global food system which provides everyone with access to safe, affordable and nutritious diets, while simultaneously protecting nature, tackling climate change and promoting human rights.
In order to achieve a more just, sustainable food system we knew we needed to hold decision makers accountable for their actions! Thus came the development of the Actions 4 Change consultation process. We asked young people to submit actions they believed were critical for government and business to take to mend our broken food system. We received numerous submissions from young people all around the world and with the guidance of our 35 core youth leaders we created a long-list of 17 ‘Actions 4 Change’. From this list we spread the word far and wide, both online and offline, and over 7 months we collected votes. This process resulted in 100,000 youth votes from close to 100 countries and a list of 10 global Actions 4 Change.
We hope that this list of Actions 4 Change can be used as an advocacy tool for young people at the national, regional and local level and that the stories of our youth leaders implementing these actions will inspire others to take action as well. I would now like to share some amazing stories of our youth leaders doing work around the Actions 4 Change in their own countries and communities.
Campaigning on Action 3 - Every child should eat a healthy and sustainable meal at school, college or nursery
Dev Sharma is a 17-year-old food activist from the UK, and is passionate about altering the injustices he notices in his daily school life and food environment. From growing up benefiting from the UK government Free School Meals programme Dev saw how difficult it was for young people to access a healthy diet and was motivated to start campaigning! Since the start of his campaign work he met with a number of influential leaders, such as the Prime Minister to discuss issues around food poverty and campaigned alongside footballer Marcus Rashford to advocate to end child food poverty. As a result of Dev’s campaigning, he has been part of some important policy changes such as extending Free School Meals over holidays and banning junk food advertising on television and online.
Campaigning on Action 6 - Ban single-use plastics in food and drink packaging
Zulma Lopez Reyes is a climate activist from Columbia who strongly believes in the need to ban single-use plastics. Zulma is a university student and like many has a busy lifestyle, often eating out or taking-away food. She noticed the large amounts of disposed single-use plastics and knew she had to take action. After many attempts and failures to convince her friends and family to bring their own reusable containers she decided there was another way forward. Zulma joined her Students for Sustainability group at her university and after months of advocacy and awareness building, she was able to participate in negotiations to make her campus more sustainable. As a result, plastic bags were banned from the supermarket and eco-labels were added to show water intensity and GHG emissions for the majority of meals.
Campaigning on Action 7 - Value local and indigenous food knowledge
Maureen Muketha is a Kenyan nutritionist passionate about achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Maureen learned that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) were responsible for 50% of hospital admissions in her country and that many of these diseases were preventable by changing diets. This fact inspired her to create a social enterprise called Tule Vyema, meaning “Let’s Eat Right” in Swahili and that’s exactly what Maureen is working to achieve. Tule Vyema works to raise awareness of proper feeding practices in the community, teaching farming techniques and passing knowledge to women about how to cultivate and consume indigenous vegetables. As a result, this initiative has equipped over 2,500 community members with nutrition knowledge and improved food security through training young women to cultivate indigenous vegetables on kitchen gardens in over 900 low-income households.
Now that our global list of Actions 4 Change has been launched our goal is to continue to help amazing youth leaders like these to implement campaigns in their own country. We know that in order for a real change to happen we must work within countries and communities to act now!