70,000 young people mobilise to offer solutions to transform life-threatening food systems

Alarm bells are ringing – set by 70,000 young people and allies around the world, distressed by the state of current food systems, which are letting the planet, current, and future generations down: 

  • Food systems are the primary driver of biodiversity loss, with agriculture threatening 86% of species at risk of extinction1 and being responsible for 80% of deforestation2. Food systems also contribute to up to 37% of greenhouse gas emissions3 causing climate change 
  • Food insecurity compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic remains a major problem with up to 811 million people going hungry in 2020 (an 18% increase on 2019), 149 million children under five being stunted and another 49 million wasted4 
  • The nutrition outlook is also grim with three billion people globally unable to afford even the cheapest form of a healthy diet5, and 1 in 5 people globally dying because of poor diets6 
  • Yet, at the same time, approximately 40% of all food is wasted7 

In light of this dire situation, which affects us all, representatives from a 70,000-strong and growing movement of committed, young people and allies will take center stage at a virtual ‘Food is the Future’ event on 22 September 2021. The event will precede the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), where Member States and constituencies will gather to bring about tangible, positive changes towards healthy, sustainable, resilient and equitable food systems. 

During the Food is the Future event, young leaders will share their vision on the future of food, the Summit and its expected outcomes, and what needs to be done.  

“We need food systems transformation for a livable future. Current food production and consumption are jeopardizing our futures when they could be the very basis of nourishment, justice and sustainability.” 

Lana Weidgenant, Deputy Director of This is Zero Hour, Action Track 2 Youth Vice-chair,  and youth leader at Act4Food Act4Change 

Key topics which will be discussed in two separate virtual sessions to accommodate a large global audience in different time zones, include: 

  • an assessment of the UNFSS process – what has been discussed and learnt, and how it impacts young people; 
  • the urgency and key choices that need to be made to move different stakeholders and accelerate the growing movements towards nourishing people and planet in peace and prosperity, and translating this into concrete calls to action; 
  • recommendations and youth priorities on what youths hope to see as outcomes of the UNFSS the next day, and how the agenda presented during the UNFSS will be implemented as a next step. 

"Our global food system should be one in which people can provide for themselves and their loved ones with dignity and respect, and we must continue working towards this more just vision. This transformation must center, engage and elevate youth voices, as this global food system we hope to build is not only for our generation, but more importantly for theirs."

Michelle Nunn, President and CEO, CARE USA. Chair, Action Track 4 

Speakers include a mix of youth representatives from various stakeholder groups, UNFSS Action Track Chairs, and others connecting food systems to global debates such as climate change: 

  • Sophie Healy-Thow, Global Youth Campaigns Coordinator, Act4Food Act4Change 
  • Rayan Kassem, West Asia Regional Director for Youth4Nature, youth leader at Act4Food Act4Change 
  • Lana Weidgenant, Deputy Director of This is Zero Hour, youth leader at Act4Food Act4Change 
  • Alec Baldwin, Food and climate activist, and actor 
  • Gonzalo Munoz, High-level Champion, COP26 
  • Johan Rockström, Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research 
  • Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director, GAIN. Chair, Action Track 1 
  • Gunhild Stordalen, Founder and Executive Chair, EAT Foundation. Chair, Action Track 2 
  • João Campari, Global Food Practice Leader, WWF. Chair, Action Track 3 
  • Michelle Nunn, President and CEO, CARE USA. Chair, Action Track 4 
  • Sandrine Dixson-Decleve, co-President, Club of Rome, co-Chair of Action Track 5 
  • Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development,  co-Chair of Action Track 5 

“I want to show the importance of planetary healthy diets and nature-based solutions as primary solutions to tackle the climate crisis. The combination of both will enable the change required for the climate, indigenous communities, and biodiversity. I am delighted to take part in the event.” 

Rayan Kassem, West Asia Regional Director for Youth4Nature, youth leader at Act4Food Act4Change 

“Fixing food is the most urgent challenge we face today. Our future on this planet depends on a wholesale transformation of how we go about producing our food, and what we choose to put on our plates. It is up to all of us—politicians, business leaders, you and I—to secure a better future, making our food choices more meaningful, but still tasty. Join us as we gather thousands around the global table to talk about how we unleash the power of food to build a better future for all.”  

Alec Baldwin, Food and climate activist, and actor 

The Food is the Future event is linked to the Act4Food Act4Change Youth movement launched on 18th May 2021. It has so far received more than 69,431 pledges worldwide from young, concerned individuals and allies, who are calling for leadership by decision makers in governments, businesses, civil society, and UN agencies. These young people have voted on a list of 17 Actions4Change to transform global food systems and ultimately achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. 

“Youth have a critical role to play in transforming food systems. As the generation facing the greatest risk with today’s food choices, it is reassuring to see young people stepping up to the plate. Food system actors should listen carefully to their ideas and recommendations.”

Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of GAIN, and Chair of UNFSS Action Track 1 – Ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all 

The level of interest in the Act4Food Act4Change campaign is testament to youth’s willingness and enthusiasm towards playing a leading role in shaping fair, sustainable, resilient, and human-centered transformations of current food systems. 

Notes for Editors 

About the event 

The event is convened by youth representatives working in and interested in food systems and the six Action Track Chairs and their respective organisations on 22 September 2021, the day before the UN Food System Summit. The event will be a convergence point of an 18-month long process, and a call to action for global leaders to listen to young people and consider their food systems priorities. It will:   

  • Take stock of the UN FSS process: what have we discussed, learnt and how do we feel about it;   
  • Highlight the urgency and the key choices that need to be made to move different stakeholders and accelerate the growing movements towards nourishing people and planet in peace and prosperity and translate this into concrete calls to action; 
  • Share recommendations and youth priorities on what we hope to see as outcomes of the UN FSS the next day, and how the agenda presented during the UN FSS will be implemented as a next step 

About the Act4Food Act4Change campaign 

As a collective force, young people have extraordinary potential to mobilise and influence tangible, positive change in our world’s food systems. Youth across the world are rallying behind #Act4Food #Act4Change. The innovative ideas and solutions of youth must be supported in the lead up to the UN Food Systems Summit and beyond.  
Our pledge brings together young people from around the world to focus on their personal actions as a contribution to system change.   
Actions 4 change urge all people, particularly governments, businesses, UN agencies and young people to act boldly and promptly. 

Enquiries/Contact 

Edwin Shankar, Leidar communications consultancy 
Tel: +47 (0)415 23 012 (Norway), email: [email protected] 

 

 

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