Food is the Future

Food is the Future

In the lead-up to today's United Nations Food Systems Summit, young activists spoke about their priorities for the global gathering at yesterday's Food is the Future event. At the event, youth representatives from worldwide interviewed adult peers in the world of food system work.

In an effort to move beyond lip service, young advocate Omnia El Omrani of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations directly asked Saber Chowdhury, a Member of Parliament in Bangladesh, to commit to working with youth on food systems. Chowdhury replied that he would go as grassroots as possible, starting the dialogue at the local level and building solutions. "It's what we do on the ground that matters," he said.

Why This Matters

The modern food system creates 37% of greenhouse gas emissions yet still leaves one in nine people worldwide undernourished. Agriculture is integral to both climate solutions and people's daily lives -- and the largest employer of young people worldwide. Incorporating youth perspectives and ideas into policy-making decisions can help create a more equitable, sustainable food system. The dialogue at the summit beginning today brings that emphasis.

As Marie-Claire Graf, a Swiss youth activist put it: "We want to have a food system that's nourishing us, the people, but also nourishing the planet."

Uneven Road to Food Systems Summit

The UN's first Food Systems Summit officially begins today, with the goal of using food as a focus for all 17 of the organization’s Sustainable Development Goals. But "Over and over, the summit has been criticized for its close links to private-sector corporate actors seeking to boost industrial agriculture," The Counter writes. Critics have called out its focus on digitalization, gene editing, and precision agriculture over more community-driven solutions.

In late July, a pre-summit event in Rome was protested by thousands of farmers, producers, and food activists who felt their expertise was being ignored at the agenda-setting meeting.

Elements like youth involvement and Indigenous representation were added later, according to Qiana Mickie, who told The Counter that the additions were made to "sound like [they] had more global grassroots involvement rather than [promoting just] a corporate agenda."