Youth have a tenacity for life that pushes them to rally around the possibility of a better, more just tomorrow. Young people understand that to make tomorrow fair, we must stand up and fight today through strong advocacy and activism. We consider and strategise ways to fix what is broken. And one of the biggest challenges looming over our heads is climate change, and what that means for the food we eat. But I see hope in youth today.
The future of our food systems is being championed by a coalition of young people around the globe leading the Act4Food Act4Change, a global youth pledge for sustainable food systems transformation. As part of this campaign, young people can vote on 17 potential actions they would most like to see, such as environmental food labeling, affordable and nutritious food accessibility, universal education on food and its impact on human and planet health, banning single use plastics in food and drink packaging and much more. While anyone can take the pledge to show their support of food systems transformation, only young people (anyone under the age of 30) can vote for the actions.
Act4Food Act4Change is creating a conversation on a topic that is imperative to human existence. Words alone will not solve our issues, but they can help get people fired up about what is wrong and what we can do about it to make it right. If young people do not care about the future of our food security and fruit bearing earth then who will? Who will ensure there is food being produced and that it is ethical, sustainable and conscious of the land on which it is grown if not us? If we don’t demand action now for more nutritious, ecologically sound diets then who else will? The status quo of food production in the United States and elsewhere will not cut it. The rate and method of which we currently produce food is unsustainable and wasteful. The responsibility of creating a more sustainable food future feels like a heavy burden to bear, but it is also a privilege to consider the vital role youth play in securing a better tomorrow.
My favorite Act4Food Act4Change action item is: “Ensure young people have a seat at the table at every level of decision-making”. Young people are often underestimated and our voice is undervalued but when we get involved, things happen! Imagine how different the world would be if young people were taken seriously. What if local politicians didn’t dismiss our concerns about food waste in our communities or institutional leaders responded to student pressure to divest from fossil fuels? We respect the experience and knowledge of experts around the world but we want to inspire them to think about what else is possible. We are determined to push for greater cooperation, collaboration and accountability - so we can all do better together.
Young people understand the complexity and interconnectedness of the challenges facing our world. We are actively engaging with all sorts of stakeholders to make sure our plates will be full of sustainable, healthy foods for as long as we and future generations live. I’m involved in a number of youth groups committed to sustainable change, and there are countless others committed to making our food systems more equitable, inclusive, healthy and accessible for all (see links below). I am encouraged by the work already done by my peers and I am incredibly excited to keep fighting the good fight toward a brighter food future.
- Student Blog Series Part 1: A flat pack dresser and a career in food systems
- Student Blog Series Part 2: Exploring the potential of inclusive business models for food systems transformation
- Food Recovery Network
- Innovative Food Systems Solutions (IFSS) portal
- International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences (IAAS)
- Farmlink Project
- Youth Feed India
- Food Wave Project