Today is International Youth Day, established by the United Nations in 1999 to celebrate the power of young people to mobilize and create innovative solutions for a more sustainable society. This year’s theme, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health,” brings people aged 15-35 throughout the world to educate and discuss new entrepreneurial approaches towards a more equitable and sustainable food system.
Food systems are essential to human existence. They are ”not only the basic elements of how we get food from farms to the table but also all of the processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population, and the negative externalities that can be generated during the process, such as air and ocean pollution as well as desertification.”
There is increasing evidence that the global food system is threatened by several crises, notably climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. Vice World News latest Instagram post went viral, highlighting the UN’s latest climate report “warns of ‘code red’ for humanity, stating the environmental changes caused by human activity as ‘irreversible’ putting ‘billions of people at immediate risk.” Climate change significantly impacts agriculture and the ability to feed the world’s population reliably.
The COVID-19 pandemic adds to the stress on our food systems by disrupting supply chains for small farms around the world, “threatening peace and stability particularly among the most vulnerable and marginalized populations.” It also leads to another crisis: world hunger.
Through our brand discovery work with the American Leadership on the SDGs, we dove deeply into the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which define a framework to address the global challenges we face, including (but not limited to): poverty, inequality, and goal number two, zero hunger. By 2030, “the number of people affected by hunger would surpass 840 million by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic could now double that number, putting an additional 130 million people at risk of suffering acute hunger by the end of 2020.”
The UN is taking a human-centered approach to finding the solution to the world’s food system crisis. According to the UN’s Concept Note about the 2021 International Youth Day theme, “Youth engagement is key to the transformation of food systems…For new results to be achieved, youth should be put at the center and prioritized in such discussions.”
During the UN’s 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum that informs each years’ theme, participants made it clear “this was no longer business as usual.” During the summit, solutions included:
We celebrate International Youth Day by reflecting on how we can do our part to transform the world for good. At Brllnt, we’re working on becoming a B-Corporation, a process that uses the SDG Action Manager tool to assess updating our policies, practices, and identifying a plan of action to align the next decade of our work to make the world a more sustainable and equitable place.
How will you take action?