Connecting Youth – Transforming Food Systems

Posted January 30, 2024

The Irish Youth Delegation to the World Food Forum hosted a side event with young people from Kenya entitled ‘Connecting Youth – Transforming Food Systems’. Through this event we brought together youth delegates from Ireland and Kenya to share their experiences on developing youth networks and the role young people play in transforming food systems and implementing the SDGs. Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Senator Pippa Hackett opened the side event and provided commentary and analysis on the experiences of young people in diverse agri-food systems at the conclusion of the event.

Senator Pippa Hackett opens event ‘Connecting Youth – Transforming Food Systems’

Youth engagement in sustainable agricultural production will be “fundamental” to combat climate change and food insecurity. “It’s clear that the next generation is engaged and wants to play a part in shaping food policy, both nationally and internationally,” Minister Hackett said.

The side event was very well attended by a diverse audience as well as high level officials from Ireland and Kenya. We also took this opportunity to present Ireland’s National Youth Food Statement during the side event.

Take home messages of the event:

  • The ageing farmer population is an issue omnipresent across global food systems that needs to be addressed effectively through decisive policy making. Both Ireland and Kenya have a farmer population predominantly in their 50’s. If true progress is to be made on climate issues, young people need access to land and the agency to make decisions that advance climate change mitigation.
  • The social aspect of rural living needs to be addressed more effectively to retain young people involved in agriculture. Rural living needs to be as opportune as urban settings are, this encompasses components of connectivity, transport and social outlets.
  • Young people should be valued for their experience and expertise at decision making tables rather than just for purely being young people involved in the sector.

The DAFM funded 91 youth delegates from 46 developing countries to attend this year’s World Food Forum, including seven young Irish people from the Irish agri-food sector.

Kenyan delegates at ‘Connecting Youth – Transforming Food Systems’