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From getting a Youth voice to committing to action in ARD strategic arena!

I am one of the founding members of YPARD. I am also a promoter of the creation of YPARD European Unit hosted by the Bern University of Applied Sciences, School of Agricultural, Forestry and Food Sciences (HAFL), and its representation in EFARD, the European Forum in ARD (of which I am currently vice-chair). I join Oliver Oliveros when, in his testimonial, he says he is very proud of the successes YPARD has achieved by now.

As I briefly presented together with Courtney Paisley and Oliver at the YPARD pre-conference meeting at GCARD 2, and as clearly explained by Oliver in its testimonial, it took a while to YPARD to be officially recognised as an ‘equal important’ stakeholder in high level ARD arena such as the GCARD Process.

How everything started...

As stated in Oliver's testimonial, the idea of a YPs platform was born at the general conference of EFARD held in Zurich 2005, where a few scattered participants in early 30s -lost among so many senior and experienced ARD researchers and practioners - thought that something should change. A few forward-looking senior advisors, named later on the ‘Senior Advisory Group’, supported us to find the right way to found YPARD and raise some initial funds to create the Platform.

Then at the following CGIAR AGM (Annual General Meeting) in 2005 held in Marrakesh, Morocco, YPARD organised a side workshop on “How to Increase Young People's Involvement in Agricultural Research for Development (ARD)?”. However, it remained an ‘out’side workshop, as most of the young participants could not participate to the actual AGM meeting.

A recognition from GFAR on the relevance of YPARD came the year later, in 2006, where at its Third Triennial Conference, YPARD was officially launched in a side meeting and made it known by the ARD stakeholders. A presentation about YPARD goals was made in a plenary session whereas it was not planned!  Moreover, some YPs were co-rapporteurs in some sessions,coupled with senior professionals.

After the creation of YPARD, some few YPs have been officially invited to the following CGIAR AGM and Science Forum, respectively in 2007 and 2009.

Then, at GCARD 1 in Montpellier, France, 2010, a Young Researchers’ Seminar was organised as a side-event. All the 40 researchers from 26 countries could participate to GCARD 1 parallel sessions. The GCARD 1 ‘Open science session’ was even moderated/chaired by YPARD :Oliver did a great job as moderator of the entire session! It was also attended by YPARD panellists and presenters. The YPs group who attended the GCARD 1 developed a ‘Youth Statement’ that was distributed to all participants.

GCARD2 – a strong milestone for YPARD!

And then GCARD 2 in 2012: the present, where many of you have contributed. I am so glad to have seen a clear role of the youth in all the GCARD 2 process:

  • From the planning : Courtney Paisley, YPARD coordinator, participated as observer in the Organising Committee
  • To the e-discussions organized by YPARD to involve all the YPs which could not attend the GCARD 2
  • To the organisation of an official pre-conference meeting, which fed a break-out session (C2.2, Individual learning and empowerment of women and youth) with YPARD positions and ideas for a way forwards, including a presentation and a panel discussion by a YPARD representative.
  • A great success -stated by all - were the young social reporters!
  • Moreover, all the YPs were welcome to participate to all the sessions and contribute with their ideas, as well as in side meetings, formal and informal, with the other participants, fora, and organisations.

Ideas and commitments from YPARD are now in the official outcome of GCARD 2.

I join Oliver in saying ‘we are getting there’. I congratulate all of you for these great results. I am glad to see that the initial YPARD idea of getting the voice of the young professionals heard in ARD strategic arena is realising, thanks to all the YPs that put their efforts into it, the hard work of the Coordination Unit and the SC, and all the organisations and senior professionals who have supported YPARD and welcoming its ideas. Now the challenge is to follow our commitments with actions to really getting there and add our contribution to all the other stakeholders towards achieving development impacts, in particular on resource for better poor smallholder farmers’ livelihoods!

Alessandra Giuliani, Italy/Switzerland