“We now have the largest youth generation in human history. What do we do with this restless generation? Far too often activities are taking place without the input from young people.” Thembi (Sithembile Ndema) started, as the hard talk moderator at the Youth session of the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), 16th November, Warsaw, Poland.
Ten young speakers were selected among 150 applications to take part in this youth session. The discussions were built around four key themes related to youth-in-landscapes’ empowerment:
- Sustainable Entrepreneurship
- Overcoming negative perceptions of agriculture/ the landscapes sector
- Capacity development
- The power of groups
Each speaker, based on their story and experience, delivered take home messages, as recommendations and call for action by their peers and their supporters.
- The poor must become more resilient. They require the option to remain in the rural areas and take up agriculture. – Karen Tuason, The Philippines
- Youth are in agriculture, but it is not celebrated. Moreover, Youth are online; reach them out there and get them involved in agriculture – Joseph Macharia, Kenya
- We need to adapt our perceptions of agriculture. Get young people involved at all levels of the value chain to boost their opportunities – Nadia Manning-Thomas, Caribbean/ UK
- What happens in climate change meetings is just a talk shop, what matters is when this is brought back to rural people. Whatever happens at global events what matters is what you bring back to the people – Tan Copsey, UK, BBC Media
- As long as young people aren’t engaged in the sector, it will continue to suffer. As long as we will try make things for youth without engaging them, nothing will change – Aliness, South Africa, Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)
- Youth must and can be empowered. There are no barriers to action, no excuses. Groups must be organized and supported through membership. YOUTH: Organize yourself, be inspired, persevere! – Izzy Lawrence, UK
- Skills may seem technical but youth are eager to learn. Let us not cry over lack of resources. If you have time and skills and resources work with the youth. – Stephen Kibet, Kenya
- YOUTH are here and ready – keep involving them. Let us use this forum and with the youth to get them involved – Joseph Otim, Uganda
- Knowledge exchange is important in the process of building capacity of the youth. Teach us what this new research should look like. How do we engage in these new areas to become better scientists? – Amy Duchelle, Brazil
Some other key messages from the discussions were:
- While government is mentioned as having a key role in providing support for sustainable entrepreneurship and making landscapes sector more attractive, Tan Copsey, from the BBC found that in areas where there was little support from the government (Pakistan in particular), people were actually more active in taking action.
- It was stressed that it is very important to speak to the interest of policy maker, to which Karen Tuason replied that this is where being organized is important among young people
- To the question: “is it realistic that we can get more young people involved in the landscapes sector?” Joseph Macharia stresses that those who organize must be from the communities. In addition, Nadia Manning-Thomas supported that we have to stop thinking about agriculture as one-dimensional area. We need to see the ‘landscapes’ aspect of the value chain – that is the type of agriculture that youth are interested in being involved in. Also, we need to publish more youth success stories. Send them to email@example.com.
Bruce Campbell – from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) – took part at the end of the session as a symbol of GLF’s organizers to “receive” youth input in the global GLF. He called youth to stop being patient. He referred to message from 2010 from the youth: “You have been negotiating all my life. You cannot tell me that you need more time”. Initiate the revolution! He said.
In addition, Sithembile Ndema (FANRPAN), the moderator of the session was invited to bring the youth recommendations at the closing session (00:34:30 mins). She eloquently brought to the forefront the two recommendations of the session to feed into the GLF global conclusions:
- In developing sustainable solutions to tackle climate change issues the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) must engage with and listen to the voice of youth in the landscape sector who contribute much needed innovative ideas and energy. Capacity development of youth movements within these processes is critical for them to contribute to their future
- The landscapes approach requires a new breed of young professionals: 1. those who are able to work across different sectors to achieve sustainable development goals and 2. those who can take advantage of opportunities at different stages of the value chain resulting in improved food security; better remuneration for young people in harmony with the environment.
One of the last calls of the two day event, by Campbell, was that the youth shouldn’t be put in a “box”: in a side-event, but instead, they should get better means to fully take part in ALL the sessions, at the next GLF.
The youth session was web streamed- videos here.