VIENNA, 7 October 2021 – While we currently produce enough food to feed every man, woman, and child in the world, there are nearly 700 million people who are hungry, a number which is growing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. An increase in threats like pests, plagues, conflict and climate change are compounding this global food crisis.
To mobilize action and identify solutions to address these threats, an innovative youth-led platform, the World Food Forum (WFF), was launched in March 2021 to transform food systems to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular “zero hunger”.
The inaugural WFF event took place between 1-6 October 2021, gathering major youth groups, influencers, companies, academic institutions, non-profits, governments, media and the public to drive awareness, foster engagement and advocacy, and mobilize resources in support of agri-food systems transformation through youth-led action.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), held a series of digital events and interactive masterclasses celebrating youth empowerment and leadership, and engaging young agri-food systems stakeholders.
To amplify the importance of digital solutions and entrepreneurship in agriculture, UNIDO organized a “Success Mindset” masterclass featuring the Mashrou3i project (“My project” in Arabic) – a joint project of UNIDO, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and the HP Foundation designed to foster youth entrepreneurship in Tunisia. Participants heard from Hayfa Khalfaoui who founded “Smart Farm”- an innovative app for dairy farming – and received business training from the Mashrou3i project to help launch her business. It also introduced the HP LIFE e-learning programme, which the Mashrou3i project utilizes to promote entrepreneurship and business, with a 40-minute “Success Mindset” online training from a certified HP LIFE trainer.
A second UNIDO masterclass featured the H2O Maghreb project, a Public-Private Development Partnership initiative implemented by UNIDO and supported by the Government of Morocco, FESTO Didactic SE, EON Reality, the Moroccan National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE), and USAID, with the objective of increasing the skills and employability of young Moroccans and water professionals. Participants were introduced to the project’s main achievements and heard the experiences of an ONEE trainer and a H2O Maghreb graduate who shared their perspectives as female water specialists contributing to the improvement of water management practices in Morocco.
UNIDO’s participation in the Word Food Forum culminated in the organization of a side event featuring the “Opportunities for Youth in Africa” (OYA) programme. The OYA programme was developed jointly by UNIDO and the FAO in response to a call for accelerated efforts in the area of job creation for African youth, especially through agribusiness and entrepreneurship development. In this regard, the two entities co-organized a virtual side-event to discuss “Opportunities for Youth in Africa: innovative local transformation and value addition of production through digitalization”, with a diverse panel of public and private sector stakeholders from African countries.