International Youth Day 2021 – how we can shape the global change movement
“International Youth Day gives an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement” – United Nations
August 12th marks International Youth Day – each year the United Nations draws attention to a particular issue that requires urgent youth engagement, for example it has previously looked at mental health awareness, transforming education and growing peace. This year they have chosen the topic of ‘Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health’.
With the world’s population expected to increase by 2 billion people in the next 30 years, it has become recognized by numerous stakeholders that simply producing a larger volume of healthier food more sustainably will not ensure human and planetary wellbeing.
When asked at the 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum (EYF), the issues and priorities highlighted by young participants included the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly related to its effect on human health, the environment, and food systems. Young people highlighted the importance of working towards more equitable food systems. Most notably, making informed decisions on food choices through increasing global education on the healthiest and most sustainable options for both individuals and the environment.
Actions 4 Food, led by youth members of the UN Food Systems Summit, pledges to brings together young people from around the world to focus on their personal actions as a contribution to system change. states that ‘as a collective force, young people have extraordinary potential to mobilise and influence tangible, positive change in our world’s food systems’.
Here at SVUK, we also believe youth engagement is absolutely integral in solving environmental issues such as this. Summer 2021 marked the end of the, 18-month long, StudEnts fight food and packaging waste throuGh entrepreneurial education and Game-baSed learning (EGGS) Project, in which we worked alongside an international team of teachers and experts in food and packaging waste to develop an innovative educational model for students. The main deliverable of the project was a free educational video game which seeks to inform students on environmental issues, specifically those of food and food packaging waste.
The project also produced a Guide to Youth Activism, covering a variety of practical ways in which children can make a difference to the environment through actions at home, at school and in the community.
It is projects like these that make change to the education system – getting children involved in important conversations surrounding health and environmental issues from a young age should lead to them placing greater focus on it in their teenage years onward. Fundamental changes to the world’s food system start here!
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The Social Value UK Team