The Youth: Secret Ingredient for a Sustainable Food System

Advocacy, Youth Leaders, Asia

Food and Nutrition Youth Network (FNYN) Philippines Launched By: Rose Jade Eugenie Delgado SUN Youth Leader for Nutrition & FNYN Philippines Convenor 

In the recipe of shaping a more sustainable food system, we need: a cup of policy changes by governments, a pinch of investment and innovation from businesses and the private sector, a dash of advocacy from Civil Society Organizations, a sprinkle of support from donors, and a spoonful of behavioral changes by consumers. 

Although this multi-level and multi-stakeholder approach has been an effective mix in improving the food system, there is one secret ingredient that we need to maximize to accelerate its progress: a big serving of young people’s involvement. 

According to the United Nations, we currently have the largest generation of young people in history. By sheer numbers alone, leaving the youth out of important areas of development is not an option. It is vital that the huge network of young people are equipped, empowered, and engaged, especially to address issues and areas that concern them, like food and nutrition. 

In recent years, there has been an increased acknowledgement and renewed focus in the crucial role of the youth in transforming the food system. There is a realization of the valuable insights and innovative ideas that young people bring to address food and nutrition related issues. One of the manifestations of this is the establishment of the Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Network (SUN CSN) Youth Leaders for Nutrition, a group of youth champions around the globe who have been taking steps, from direct action initiatives, to contributing to policy making endeavors, all while rallying our fellow youth to do the same: to address different food systems issues. 

In the Philippines, there are also several food and nutrition youth advocates and youth organizations that are engaged in programs and projects that all contribute to creating a healthier, more resilient food system. However, there is a need for them to be further linked for a more concerted effort amongst young people in addressing different food systems related issues. 

Recognizing this need, and with the support and enthusiasm of my fellow Filipino food and nutrition youth advocates, on October 16 – World Food Day (WFD), we launched the Food and Nutrition Youth Network (FNYN) Philippines. 

The Food and Nutrition Youth Network is a group composed of Filipino youth advocates and youth organizations who engage in initiatives centered on food and nutrition and who are geared towards ending hunger, promoting sustainable agriculture, achieving food security and improving nutrition. It is a platform for youth champions in the country to be further equipped and engaged in different areas of the food system.  

Over 130 youth advocates and organizations nationwide operating within the agriculture, nutrition, and environment landscape in the Philippines participated in the two-part event; the Food and Nutrition Network Launch and World Food Day 2021 Celebration. The first half which centered on World Food Day, featured an overview of WFD and this year’s theme and a special message for the youth participants from the Guest Speaker, Ms. Kati Hannele Tanninen, FAO Representative in the Philippines. The highlight of the celebration was the choice learning breakout sessions in line with the WFD 2021 theme:; Better Production, Better Nutrition and Better Environment. The participants chose the area they are most involved in for a 20-minute interactive deep dive facilitated by invited Resource Persons. Each breakout group produced an output which was presented in the plenary by a group rapporteur.  

The second half of the event was the FNYN Launch wherein participants were introduced to the network– its vision, mission, objectives, plans– and were invited to be members. The highlight was the release of FNYN’s official video providing an overview of the network. The event featured a number of interactive learning segments (e.g. Timplang Pinoy: Guess the Filipino Dish and Gulay Yan! Gulay Natin to: Know Your Indigenous Vegetables) and exuded a fun, youthful vibe throughout.  

The support we received for both the event and the network from youth advocates and youth organizations from all over the country, the positive responses from different stakeholders, and the turnout for the launch, are testaments to both the enthusiasm and eagerness of young people to be involved in shaping the food system, and the openness of different stakeholders to support them. 

We are off to a great start, and I am certain that FNYN is destined to reach great heights. We will remain committed to being a network created by young people, with young people, for a sustainable food system. 

The areas of Food and Nutrition are hungry for the increased mobilization and involvement of young people. Without a doubt, the youth are the secret ingredient in the recipe for a more sustainable food system. Let’s make sure to have a healthy serving of this special ingredient! 

The event and the network would not have been possible without the passion and hard work of the Planning Team and I would like to give a shout out to Camille Valdemoro, Kirstein Itliong, Aldrich John Gabriel Limos, Shanerisse Tamondong, Stephanie Lorraine Ignas, Ciarra Patria Pascual, Cyrene Dawn Montaño, Angelo Ken Flores, Marie Aislinn Cabriole and Annie Secretario. Special thanks as well to Ms. Emilita Monville Oro. You are all an inspiration to youth advocates everywhere