From 24-28 August in Canberra, Bayer CropScience and Future Farmers Network Australia brought together 100 young thought leaders, aged 18-25, from 33 nations for the Youth Ag-Summit to discuss the role science and modern agriculture play in feeding a hungry planet.
The Canberra Youth Ag Declaration outlines the solutions and actions of these young global leaders and will be presented at the United Nation’s Committee on World Food Security in Rome in October by Australian delegate Laura Grubb and Kenyan delegate Samba Ouma.
Shaping a call for action
Delegates voted on their priority themes all week to form the basis of the Declaration with education and skills building, communication of the opportunities in agriculture and role in society, responsible and sustainable consumption, innovation including research and development, and personal and organisational leadership selected as the highest priorities for the delegates during the week.
The themes of the Declaration are underpinned by solutions and actions, with delegates assigned specifics roles to motivate industry change. These solutions include:
- - Develop a fair and open multi-channel platform for formal and informal educators in the agricultural industry to build greater skills through ongoing education;
- - Globally promote and enhance the image of farmers and the breadth of opportunities in the agricultural industry;
- - Enhance socially acceptable and responsible consumption through better education and utilization of current resources;
- - Create a global network that links young innovators to agricultural needs to drive information sharing, funding and solutions;
- - Develop a global youth platform to build a movement and develop youth leaders through mentorship and education via youth groups.
These actions will be fine-tuned in the coming weeks and presented to the United Nations Committee on World Food security in October.
“To drive real outcomes from the 2015 Youth Ag-Summit we need to ensure the solutions and actions identified by the 100 delegates are communicated with key global policy and decision makers. The opportunity to present the Declaration to the United Nations and say this is what young people across the world think needs to be done to feed a hungry planet provides a significant step towards enacting change,” states Georgie Aley, Chair of Future Farmers Network Australia.
“Young people have incredible potential to solve global and local food challenges,” adds Bernd Naaf, Member of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience. “The Youth Ag-Summit in Canberra has focused on capturing the ideas of young leaders and this Declaration is a first significant step of a long journey. Moreover, the individual commitments of each delegate create a positive impact on a local basis which is equally important to pinning down solutions on a global level.”
Driving change – globally and locally
Laura Grubb, an Australian student of animal science, has always been active in the field of agriculture. Her chosen field of interest is technology and innovation. In her opinion both are necessary to be able to tackle global food challenges in a sustainable way.
“It’s a huge opportunity; normally at conferences the information and ideas shared stay within the body of people that attended, but we have a unique opportunity to spread this around the globe to both developed and developing countries, across a range of different ecosystems, production systems, and cultures. That means we can really put the goals we’ve developed at the Summit into practice and make a difference,” Laura said.
Samba Ouma from Kenya is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor in Commerce. His motivation to engage in food security stems from his personal experience as he witnessed food shortage all his life. He strongly believes in education and empowerment, especially for youth. “I am so grateful to represent all 100 delegates and speak on their behalf at the UN conference,” he said.
In addition to developing the Declaration, delegates were challenged to individually shape “3 little things” which will see them set goals to make a difference in their home countries.
As Samba looks back on his week spent at the Youth Ag-Summit, it is clear the discussion and knowledge transfer has had a big impact, particularly the concept of the “3 little things”.
“My personal commitments are based on the needs of my community and that is where I can drive change,” says Samba. “My number one priority is to keep the conversation going, especially on social media because that’s where most of the young people are, that’s where we can tap the potential. My second priority would be to use the next four Saturday’s after the Summit, because I happen to work in a youth group in Mombasa in Kenya, to use the foresight of this to teach them, to share with them what I learnt so that I can also empower them. Finally, I want to work closely with the other delegate from Kenya and my country mentor, to ensure that we come up with one very awesome initiative that will bring the entire nation on-board,” Samba concludes.
The delegates will stay connected through the Youth Ag-Network, an exclusive online platform for Youth Ag-Summit Alumni to help these young leaders to stay in touch, as well as to support and continue learning from each other.