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Want youth to transform the food system? Let's talk finance.

This month, Glindys Virginia Luciano, YPARD Network Engagement Coordinator and Genna Tesdall, YPARD Director, were invited to write a guest blog post at GFAR, as part of their Partner's in Action campaign. We thank our partner GFAR for giving YPARD the opportunity to share our thoughts as youth. 

In the last several years, dialogue around safe and nutritious food has evolved from talks about productivity towards post-productionist goals. What does it really mean to consume food that is produced in an ethical manner and in a fashion which respects farmers, animals, the environment and consumers? The conversation is still evolving, and YPARD is honored to contribute at the global level as the youth constituency is increasingly recognized. We have been advocating for youth for years thanks to inclusion at GFAR, and more recently at the UN Food Systems Summit, World Food Forum, Pre-COP and Committee on World Food Security.

While our inclusion is a great starting point, the global community needs to commit resources to taking action. Governments, non-governmental organizations, and multi-stakeholder groups need to actively work together to ensure the issues raised and solutions provided in the ongoing dialogues are implemented. Without committing resources towards these commitments—including stakeholder engagement—food systems transformation will not take place.

What's more, we need to listen to those who best know the right action to take. In particular, marginalized people such as youth, people of color, indigenous peoples and rural communities, have a deep understanding of what is at stake. Through the consultative policy processes and regional UNFSS independent dialogues hosted by YPARD, we understand that safe and nutritious food is not only about individual health or profit, but rather about ensuring healthy societies, fair wages for food producers, high animal welfare standards and a transparent supply chain. Our current way of producing food is not sustainable: the predominant model allows the mistreatment of workers and animals while endangering marginalized communities and the environment. Putting marginalized voices at the forefront of food and agricultural policy making will ensure food security, climate and environmental protection, and guarantee the SDGs become the top priorities.

Global dialogues, such as the UNFSS, are important in building awareness and political will; however, they alone are not powerful enough to enact change. Stakeholder groups must be enabled to support their long-term engagement at the global, regional and local levels. Unfortunately, vulnerable, non-profit constituencies are often only able to participate—when we are lucky—through a handful of volunteers and short-term contract staff. Short-term initiatives created around specific events often struggle with continuity, thus giving vulnerable groups a sense of disempowerment and disappointment. Truly effective coordination between global, regional and local levels requires consistent, sustainable initiatives, which in turn require financial resources to remain active long-term.

We, as YPARD, ask you, the global community, to support the efforts and initiatives already being carried out by volunteers and short-term staff of various constituencies to bring system change.

Concrete actions to transform food systems for the wellbeing of all include:

  • Providing financial support to non-governmental organizations focused on advocating for marginalized voices, ensuring long-term engagement.
  • Including marginalized voices in all levels of decision-making processes, while avoiding tokenism by implementing consistent consultative processes.
  • Co-creating and funding capacity building programs in support of marginalized groups focused on sustainable production.

We have the opportunity to transform our current food system into one that puts community first. Let's seize the opportunity together.

Glindys Virginia Luciano

Glindys Virginia Luciano (GVL) is an interdisciplinary food-systems scientist and the current Network Engagement Coordinator for Young Professionals in Agricultural Development (YPARD). Glindys Virginia is driven to be a food systems and climate action leader and believes the first step to change is evaluating our individual actions and their impacts on the environment but also on other beings. She believes the democratic participation of youth, indigenous people, and POC communities are crucial to properly transform food production, access, and consumption patterns.

Glindys Virginia holds a B.A. in Food Anthropology (2016) from Connecticut College and an MSc. (2021) in Food Processing and Agriculture Development from the Czech University of Life Sciences. Her research focus areas include product development, and food security. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Genna Tesdall

Genna Tesdall (she/her) is an agriculture systems thinker taking on projects to sustain the environment and people, now as the incoming director of YPARD. She strives to be a servant-leader in order to foster equality between generations (and all delimiters of privilege). Before joining YPARD, she was the federal agricultural policy officer at the German Rural Youth Association (Bund der Deutschen Landjugend) (2020). As a Fulbright Researcher at the Humboldt University of Berlin (2018-19), she focused on youth involvement in agricultural policy, and was the former president (2013-14) of the International Association of Agriculture and Related Sciences Students (IAAS). She is a graduate of the global oriented Iowa State (2015) and Penn State Universities (2018) with a M.Sc. in Plant Pathology and International Agriculture and Development. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Wednesday, 21 February 2024

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