International Youth Day - Transforming food systems

12 August 2021

Youth innovation for human and planetary health

With the world’s population expected to increase by 2 billion people in the next 30 years, it has become recognized by numerous stakeholders that simply producing a larger volume of healthier food more sustainably will not ensure human and planetary wellbeing. Other crucial challenges must also be addressed, such as the interlinkages embodied by the 2030 Agenda including poverty reduction; social inclusion; health care; biodiversity conservation; and climate change mitigation. It has been acknowledged that there is a need for inclusive support mechanisms that ensure youth continue to amplify efforts collectively and individually to restore the planet and protect life, while integrating biodiversity in the transformation of food systems.

The theme of International Youth Day 2021, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”, highlights the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people.

During the 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum (EYF), the issues and priorities highlighted by young participants included the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly related to its effect on human health, the environment, and food systems. As part of the official outcome recommendations of the EYF, young participants stressed the importance of working towards more equitable food systems. In addition, they highlighted the need for youth to make informed decisions on food choices through increasing global education on the healthiest and most sustainable options for both individuals and the environment. There were also recommendations on providing adequate capacity development with respect to the resilience of food systems, in particular during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in its aftermath.

Through youth education, engagement, innovation and entrepreneurial solutions, this year’s International Youth Day aims to provide a platform for young people to continue the momentum from the EYF in the lead up to the high-level Food Systems Summit. This year, International Youth Day will be virtually convened by DESA in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Major Group for Children and Youth.

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