On Wednesday, 13 October, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) at its 49th plenary session (CFS 49), considered: the report by the CFS High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on promoting youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems; and the use and application of the CFS policy recommendations on food security and climate change, and on water for food security and nutrition. Members also finalized the draft conclusions on the session on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2021 Report.
On promoting youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems, Martin Cole, Chair, HLPE, introduced the HLPE Report “Youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems,” highlighting its key messages on the need to: put youth at the center of the policy convergence process based on the pillars of rights, equity, agency and recognition; ensure context-specific employment and labor market policies that are economically rewarding and intellectually satisfying; ensure youth have equitable access to resources; and promote youth-centered innovation for sustainable food systems.
Subsequently, Project team leader Hannah Wittman, Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, and team members Indika Arulingam, International Water Management Institute, and Mariaelena Huambachano, Syracuse University, US, presented the conceptual framework and recommendations of the report, highlighting that the collective challenge is to envision new pathways for sustainable food systems with youth leading as agents of change. They detailed the report’s policy recommendations in the areas of: providing an enabling environment for youth; securing dignified and rewarding livelihoods; increasing equity and rights to resources; enhancing knowledge, education and skills; and fostering sustainable innovation, while overcoming the digital divide.
Youth representatives then made presentations outlining ways the international community can encourage youth to participate in agriculture and food systems. They called for: land tenure reforms that increase youth’s opportunities; dialogue between youth and the public and private sectors; involving youth in policy- and decision making; and equipping youth with the skills to deal with the current crisis. Luciano Loman, youth representative of the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM), called for youth access to training and innovative financing, and providing youth, women and new farmers with a hand up to penetrate new markets and territories. Sefu Sanni, youth representative of the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM), reported on challenges youth are facing, including unemployment, rural-urban migration, socio-political transformations, and gender and nonbinary inequity. She outlined an alternative model to the capitalist system centred on agroecology.
On Wednesday afternoon, delegates participated in a session on Monitoring CFS Policy Recommendations on food security and climate change and the CFS policy recommendations on water for food security and nutrition endorsed in 2012 and 2015, respectively. William Moseley, Professor, Macalester College, US, and HLPE Steering Committee member, delivered a keynote presentation on the nexus between water, climate and food security and nutrition, reflecting on the HLPE 2012 report “Food security and climate change”, and the HLPE 2015 report “Water for food systems and nutrition”, and the respective CFS policy recommendations on climate change, water, and food security. He addressed the extent to which the recommendations are known and used, and whether they need updating, particularly in light of the recent publication on the Physical Science Basis of Climate Change as part of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He recommended applying a food systems’ approach and to broaden the understanding of food security and nutrition by adding the two dimensions of “agency” and “sustainability” as key elements in the nexus between water, climate and food security. A panel of speakers then shared their experiences in applying the recommendations from these reports, followed by delegates sharing some of their own experiences.
Members then finalized the draft conclusions on the SOFI report, which started on Monday, following a proposal to add reference to “unilateral coercive measures” and their impact on food security in the COVID-19 era. Following discussions during a “Friends of the Chair” meeting on Wednesday morning, Members agreed on a text which notes there was extensive discussion, with divergent views expressed, on the impact of economic, financial, and trade measures on food security and nutrition during the COVID-19 pandemic and that Members’ positions were posted on the CFS website.
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