“You have created a global movement with us. You are making your voices heard, and they are dynamic. You are inciting and leading real action,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu addressed young people at the opening ceremony during the WFF.
The future is a warning, as we step into the years of unprecedented hunger, as stated by the UN statistic, with ongoing conflicts, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and the rising costs of living. As stated in the FAO Food Price Index, food costs reached an all-time high in February 2022, just one more factor that is contributing to the 3828 million hungry people across the world.
And this is all happening just eight years away from 2030, and the challenge to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets. Therefore it is vital that there are new solutions found within production industries, and consumption patterns improved, to reduce the costs associated with unhealthy diets and climate change by the 2030 deadline.
The 2021 UN Food Systems Summit pointed out the failure of the agrifood systems to deliver on the SDG, with these systems being responsible for 31 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
The struggles born from climate change have a consequent effect on biodiversity and subsequently on diet and health. In 2020 we still had 2.37 billion people in the world without access to sufficient food. Additionally, in 2019, around 3 billion people in the world didn’t have access to a healthy diet, according to FAO data.
Showcasing the direct link between climate change and our access to safe and nutritious food and healthy diets, the World Food Forum (WFF) has brought forth its second edition with the theme “Healthy Diets. Healthy Planet.”
As it was stated during the forum, “solutions that recognise the linkages among food, agriculture, biodiversity, and climate change can contribute to food security and enable healthy diets for all, ensuring that no one is left behind.”
Conceived by the FAO Youth Committee, the WFF gathered young voices aiming to spark ideas and solutions to help transform agri-food systems and achieve the SDGs such as SDG 2 ("No hunger"), SDG 1 (“No poverty”) and SDG 10 (“lower inequality”).
The uniqueness of the forum is its multifaceted and complex agenda that comprises voices from a spectrum of nationalities and backgrounds.
More than 2,000 people attended in person at the FAO headquarters in Rome, along with tens of thousands joining in virtually. Global leaders, renowned scientists and young innovators; activists, bloggers, artists, performers, chefs, young farmers, and investors, all connected and needing to be heard; within the workshops, roundtables, debates, exhibitions, and cultural activities. Giving a voice to all, the forum hosted Rome-based Japanese chef Kotaro Noda who discussed the importance of sustainable value chains and quality products in his restaurants. Indigenous female chefs, such as chef Mokgadhi Itsweng, from the Balobedu tribe in South Africa, and a team of Sámi chefs put on cookery displays using their native ingredients and cooking techniques and there were performances from Grammy Award-winning musicians Ricky Kej and Lonnie Park, and Italian street artist Cibo among others.
The high point of the event was marked by the participation of the highest caliber global leaders. President Xiomara Castro of Honduras called for the forum to come up with holistic solutions for eradicating hunger in the short and medium term; President Andrzej Duda of Poland paid tribute to young people’s commitment to the transformation of food systems to make them more responsive to humanity’s needs, and President Carlos Manuel Vila Nova of Sao Tome and Patrizio Bianchi, Minister of Public Education of Italy, highlighted the solidarity in working for a better future and providing decent, healthy food for all, reducing the impact, as “the health of the planet is the heart of humanity”.
The Global Youth Forum is one of three specific directions that were taken over five days at the FAO headquarters, together with the Science and Innovation Forum and the Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum. The Global Youth Forum featured a Youth Assembly, an innovation lab for young entrepreneurs and scientists, a food education symposium, and several other outreach activities.
During the WFF Global Youth Forum, young voice outlined their priorities to ensure greater access to safe and nutritious food, and asked decision-makers to work with them to implement effective policies.