Today, we celebrate International Youth Day - a commemoration of young people and their ability to create a better world. YPARD, an organization dedicated to elevating the voice and impact of youth in agriculture, remains a devoted partner towards the fulfilment of the ‘youth-related’ objectives of the global development agenda. Our powerful global network and multi-level (global to local) initiatives help to strengthen the capacities of youth and young professionals to lead positive change in the world, and we pledge our continuing commitment to facilitate support and acknowledgment of youth in the global dynamics of agricultural development.
In the decade that has passed since YPARD formed, much has been achieved and we should be very proud. Thousands of members are actively engaged in the YPARD community, sharing experiences and their wide- ranging knowledge of the agricultural sector. We have successfully implemented programs that offer consulting and mentoring to youth in the field; And, we have delivered on our clear strategy to highlight the needs and opportunities of young professionals in global policy discussions.
But, the YPARD journey is far from over, and our work remains as important as ever.
The report from the recent International Conference on Financing for Development [Addis Ababa, 13-16 July 2015] clearly states that investment in youth is critical to accomplish comprehensive and equitable development for present and future generations. It reflects a commitment by 2020 to have a global strategy for youth employment, promote small and medium-sized initiatives, to build capacity and skill of young people through training and mentoring, and talks about outlining national youth strategies as a key instrument for meeting the needs and ambitions of young people.
In this context, the specific challenges facing youth in agriculture and food production must be prioritized. Inspiration and growth opportunities for young agricultural professionals are absolutely necessary if we are to overcome pressing concerns like food security, youth unemployment, and an ‘old-fashioned’ image of agriculture.
Taking this occasion of the International Youth Day, let us reiterate that YPARD will continue to shape a positive impetus for youth empowerment and participation, while showcasing our profound impact addressing the world’s biggest challenges.
Today, and every day, it is important to remember that young people have unprecedented power to shape the future the world, and especially food and agriculture. As visionary, creative and passionate problem solvers, it is up to us – the world’s youth, and the leaders of the next generation - to develop the essential innovations, the new technologies, the breakthrough research and advocate for better policies the world needs to ensure that every single person has access to adequate, safe and nutritious food.
As Muhammed Yunus reminds us: “Young people today are capable of doing much more today than in the history of mankind.” We have the power in our hands, so let’s get to work and show what’s possible!
This blogpost was co-authored by:
Nidhi Nagabhatla, Chair, YPARD-Steering Committee & The United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)
Christine Gould, YPARD Steering Committee Member & Founder & CEO of Thought For Food