World Food Forum 2023 flagship event concludes with enhanced commitments to transform agrifood systems

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FAO Director-General QU Dongyu and his staff at the closing ceremony of the 2023 World Food Forum. Photo Credit: FAO/Cristiano Minichiello

Youth engagement, investment and science and innovation at the fore of a series of week-long events

By Panagrimedia Reporter, October 31, 2023, The third annual World Food Forum flagship event hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), came to an end with attendees from across the world celebrating a week of intense discussions, innovative solutions, investments, and commitments.

The event, which brought together over 5,000 in-person participants, along with more than 20,000 online viewers, marked a significant step toward transforming global agrifood systems. The discussions focused on the theme “Agrifood systems transformation accelerates climate action”.

At the closing ceremony, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu highlighted the importance of youth engagement and global collaboration. Qu expressed gratitude to the hardworking individuals who made the event possible and praised the youth who had travelled from every corner of the globe to participate.

“So much has been achieved this week”, he said. The forum showed the world the importance of active engagement of global youth in all global processes; the importance of partnership, collaboration and solidarity and bringing all partners from across the spectrum together to take concrete actions; and the importance of leveraging the power of science and innovation, and investments.

An intergenerational message from all regions

In a powerful speech, Licypriya Kangujam, 12-year-old Youth Climate Activist and Special Envoy for the President of Timor-Leste, highlighted the urgent need for developed nations to divert funds from wars to address global issues like hunger, education, and climate change. She underscored the interconnectedness of nature, food security, and our future, urging governments to transition away from fossil fuels. She called for immediate action to prevent further harm to future generations and advocate for the basic rights of clean air, clean water, and a clean planet.

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland praised the Special Envoy’s words that got her a standing ovation at the plenary, and addressed the importance of truth and authenticity in addressing the global crises of climate change, food security, and inequality. He emphasized the need for a new approach to sustainable development, involving deep understanding, innovation, and inclusivity. The President stressed the significance of empowering young people to be partners in policymaking and advocate for gender-inclusive land and labor policies.

Marcio Macedo, Minister of State and Head of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of Brazil emphasized his country’s role in fighting global hunger, renewing commitments to the 2030 agenda, broadening youth and women’s participation in food production, and advocating for a fairer international trade system for agricultural commodities. Macedo underscored the importance of diplomacy and multilateralism in achieving global economic recovery and reaffirmed Brazil’s commitment to the cause.

  1. Moeldoko, Chief of Staff and Special Advisor for Food Security to the President of the Republic of Indonesia stressed the need to provide real opportunities for the youth to enter the agricultural sector. He described concrete steps taken in Indonesia, such as the initiation of the presidential staff college to engage young leaders in public policy, forming a forum for smart farming among young people, and promoting research and innovation in agriculture.

Laura Suazo, Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock of Honduras; Yeshey Penjor, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock of Bhutan; and Abdullahi Aliyu Sabi, Minister of State, Agriculture and Food Security of Nigeria, participated in a panel discussion where they highlighted the importance of the Hand-in-Hand initiative and thanked FAO for its efforts to transform agrifood systems and support developing countries on this endeavour.

A week for youth, science and investments

Over the course of five days, the forum featured more than 200 events, shining a spotlight on the key themes of youth engagement, investment, and the role of science and innovation in agrifood systems.

Youth engagement: The WFF Global Youth Forum underscored the vital role of young people in global decision-making processes, emphasizing inclusivity and climate action. The Forum witnessed young individuals’ passion, dedication, and commitment towards building a sustainable future for during events dedicated to climate action, leadership and culture.

Science and Innovation: The Science and Innovation Forum explored innovative solutions for advancing climate action and sustainability in agrifood systems. This included making climate technologies, innovative practices, and traditional knowledge accessible and affordable, discussing cutting-edge research and addressing resilience, loss and damage, and soil and water management.

Investment and partnerships: Delegates stressed the significance of partnerships across the spectrum, not just in discussions but through concrete actions. The Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum showcased investment opportunities designed to implement the FAO Science and Innovation Strategy and address climate change.

The forum which builds on the FAO Hand-in-Hand Initiative, attracted over 31 countries and two Regional Initiatives presenting investment plans and opportunities. A total of 110 investments, designed to benefit over 149 million beneficiaries, were unveiled, with more than $15 billion in agrifood investment opportunities showcased.

Indigenous peoples: The WFF, which hosted this year the United Nations Global Indigenous Youth Forum, also acknowledged the critical role of Indigenous Peoples and small-scale farmers in agrifood systems, as their knowledge and insights enriched the discussions. It emphasized that resources and investments are needed to turn innovations into reality.”

This year’s event also demonstrated FAO’s commitment to addressing food waste. As part of its corporate responsibility, FAO implemented a food waste monitoring system in the canteens and food trucks on the premises, resulting in a total reduction of 964 kg of leftover food waste.

The Director-General expressed appreciation for the global participation this year and announced that the 4th World Food Forum will take place in 2024, welcoming all attendees back to Rome.

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