20 September 2019: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has released a report that showcases how FAO and non-FAO projects encourage youth to take the lead in addressing climate change and ensure a viable, sustainable future for agriculture, with a focus on the role of innovation. The case studies address five themes: e-agriculture, innovation and technology; youth employment; capacity development; entrepreneurship; and alliances and networks.

The report titled, ‘Youth in Motion for Climate Action! A Compilation of Youth Initiatives in Agriculture to Address the Impacts of Climate Change,’ argues that young people are “often more willing to adopt new practices and take risks.” Young people, it notes, can act as a bridge between traditional farming techniques and new technologies and help shift agriculture and food systems towards increased sustainability and climate resilience. The report highlights access points for initiatives and projects that engage and mobilize young people, and presents ten examples of youth-focused or youth-led activities, from hackathons to educational products that support everyday climate action.

In Guatemala, for example, FAO developed the Integrated Country Approach (ICA) programme to promote entrepreneurial activities and boost rural employment. The ChispaRural.gt initiative, a virtual platform that works on mobile phones and the web, enables youth to access up-to-date information on sustainable agriculture and employment in rural areas. The platform provides details on funding opportunities and training as well as success stories and tools from young agricultural entrepreneurs in their community.

In Tanzania and Uganda, FAO has helped boost youth employment in rural areas that are experiencing climate impacts, such as receding coastline and coastal vegetation. These impacts made youth more hesitant about pursuing careers in agriculture, and, to address this concern, FAO provided training sessions on modern agribusiness methods and integrating a climate perspective into investment, using Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS). Trainings included business and technical skills and marketing, adapted to rural people’s needs. Young people who received training trained another 150 peers in the district, who then trained an additional 20 people. In Uganda, FAO incorporated training on aquaculture and fisheries, such as the construction and management of fish production systems, contributing to increased productivity of fish farming and income-generating opportunities for youth.

In Zambia, the FAO #HackAgainstHunger brought together 24 youth entrepreneurs from seven countries to apply information and communications technologies (ICTs) to transform food and agriculture systems, create youth employment opportunities and generate economic growth. The ‘AgriPredict’ team won the hackathon with its solution to respond to challenges faced by smallholder farmers in preventing and treating pest outbreaks. AgriPredict generated a mobile phone and web-based service that provides farmers with access to climate information and weather forecasts and helps them prevent and respond to plant pest and disease outbreaks, therefore contributing to eradicating hunger and achieving sustainable agricultural development.

In the Pacific, FAO partnered with the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom), the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) to promote the use of digital technologies to encourage youth to work in the agriculture sector, including training young people to provide marketing support and technical production support to young farmers using social media and other ICT tools and supporting young farmers to document and disseminate best practices for enhancing climate resilience. The project offered young people an alternative to migration by helping them to earn income for themselves and produce food for their families while also contributing to climate-resilient value chains in the Cook Islands, Niue and the Marshall Islands.

The FAO publication’s launch coincides with the first-ever UN Youth Climate Summit, which gave young people the opportunity to voice their demands for climate action. [Publication: Youth in Motion for Climate Action!] [FAO Press Release]