The global food and agriculture space is finally abuzz with enthusiasm for dialogues about the role of youth. As youth organizing through networks, civil society, and the private sector, we are weary of dialogue and policies for us without us. With this side event, youth organizations have joined forces to address the main challenges youth face when seeking to democratically and sustainability engage in food policy spaces.
Youth is the next cross-cutting theme, as women (gender) has become. After all, the well-being and lasting participation of youth, like women, is essential to the sustainability and regeneration of every aspect of food systems. Among the estimated 9 billion people who will make up the global population by 2050, 1.3 billion will be youth, people between the ages of 15 and 24. Even the definition of youth varies among UN agencies; the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines youth as ages 18 to 35. Despite a global rural to urban migration, more than half of these young people will live in rural areas. To combat unemployment and underemployment, food systems are a means of incentivizing rural living (FAO, CTA, and IFAD 2014). The 2014 FAO State of Food Security in the World asserts that “strengthening capacities for strategic planning and policies at all levels” is essential to global food security. However, one of the six main challenges to youth involvement in agriculture is their limited voice in policy (FAO, CTA, and IFAD, 2014). It is known that rural youth are often disadvantaged in social dialogues, including their own representation, when operating in highly hierarchical social systems common in rural areas (UNICEF 2014).
What are the first steps in sustainably mainstreaming youth? This side event will discuss the main barriers to consistent, democratic youth participation.