On the sidelines of the annual FAO Conference,41st session a youth event dubbed Real Action on Youth – Driving the Future of Agriculture was organized.
The event, sponsored by the Government of the Netherlands, aimed at giving the attendees a clear understanding of what policy actions are needed on Youth, as well as ideas of ways in which a Youth Council could be mobilized as a resource to contribute meaningfully to their work. The event also gave the young people who have been involved with the working group on the Youth Council a valuable opportunity to interact directly with those actors whose work the Youth Council aims to support and enhance.
Among the young panellists was Jim Cano who was representing YPARD. I caught up with Jim afterwards to get an in-depth view of the Youth Council deliberations so far. Enjoy the interview below.
Emmie: Congratulations on being appointed as the YPARD Global Focal point person for the Rome Based Agencies (RBA) Youth Council. Please tell us more, what is the RBA youth Council?
Jim: The RBA Youth Council is a platform where various international organizations that work with and for youth in agriculture come together to bring the voice of youth to the United Nations’ Food Agencies or also known as the RBAs: FAO, IFAD, WFP.
The Youth Council’s vision statement reads:
“The Youth Council aims to be a valuable resource to the Rome-Based Agencies in the form of an inclusive, youth-led advisory team that champions practical innovations and policies focused on the unique needs and strengths of young people in agriculture globally.”
That being said, the Youth Council’s essential role is to facilitate the input of young people in the work of the RBAs. The Council, thus, will focus on endorsing and advising programs and products associated with the three RBAs.
Emmie: The word youth can mean different things to different people. In the case of the Youth Council and looking at the lens of YPARD, which cohort of youth are we talking about and how will they be engaged?
Jim: The Council takes on the definition of the United Nations on “youth”, which is 18 to 35 years old. Thus, there is an overlap with the youth or young professionals that YPARD caters to, which the network defines as 18 to 39 years old.
Each convening organization member of the Youth Council is expected to create their respective mechanisms in relation to the council. How we can engage fellow YPARDians then is to tap into the existing structure of the network, where we have Regional Coordinating Units and Country Chapters. We can mobilize therefore those want to be involved by becoming part of a working group of which members will coordinate with their respective Country Representatives and Regional Coordinators also. The Global Focal Persons for the Youth Council of YPARD then coordinate this working group to carry out tasks related to the efforts of the council and in line with the aims of YPARD.
At the regional and country-level, should there be any representation of fellow convening organizations of the council, our YPARDians can also work with them to carry out council-related endeavours.
Emmie: How will the youth Council be able to bring to fore particular issues pertinent to the youth spread across the world?
Jim: Given the possible structure mentioned in the prior question, it is possible then for us to create avenues where consultations are made. These data then can be gathered, analyzed, and echoed at the global level, which the Council can use to advise and endorse the policies and programs of the RBAs. The hope is that such a mechanism could make the RBAs work even more responsive to the needs of young people.
Emmie: YPARD revised its strategic direction with a focus on sustainable food systems. How do you see the intersection of the YPARD work with that of the Council?
Jim: The challenge of addressing zero hunger and the accelerated effects of climate change on the world’s food systems can only be taken on by coordinated efforts between all those involved in global agricultural development. I think it’s crucial to consider how we can work closely with fellow international youth-in-ag organizations to achieve the SDGs. Doing so would also create opportunities for YPARD to work towards sustainable food systems.
Emmie: How many organizations are in the Youth Council and what’s their mandate? How are new entrants, if any, selected?
Jim: So far, there are 5 convening organizations or networks in the Council – YPARD, Climate Smart Agri Youth Network, 4H International, Nuffield International and Youth Ag Summit. The membership criteria to be considered as a convening organization agreed upon by the working group is as follows:
- Be a not-for-profit organization
- Represent a global constituency, in at least 10 countries from diverse world regions
- Have a stated and proven track record of working with youth in agriculture and food (35 and under)
- Have established convening power to engage with youth, with a minimum of 10 years of legacy.
Emmie: We have seen the rise and fall of many youth-oriented initiatives. From a sustainability point of view, how is this cushioned in the youth council?
Jim: The Youth Council is in its early stages as of yet, and the most important thing is to get UN member states to recognize and support this initiative; especially, the member states who sit in the Executive Boards of the RBAs.
We have the Dutch Ambassador, His Excellency Hans Hoogeveen, who recognizes the need for young people to have a voice at the policy discussions and program directions. He is championing the Youth Council initiative among his colleagues in the RBAs.
The hosting arrangements are still in discussion, and Ambassador Hoogeveen is helping the working group to coordinate that.
Emmie: How can fellow YPARDians be involved in the Youth Council?
Jim: We will keep the network posted on how to be involved with the youth council work
Thanks, Jim for taking the time for this interview. We look to your updates on the latest developments of the RBAs youth council.