Let me start by wishing all of you a very happy ‘International Youth Day’.
On 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) to declare August 12 as the International Youth Day (to know more about the history read UN resolution 54/120). This initiative reverberated with the growing acknowledgment to position Youth as agents of change and made a high-level case for young professionals to be included in development debates, including discussions of peace, security and our ‘common future’ in a globalized world. Recent discussions (S/RES/2282, 2016) at the UN Security Council Resolution also reiterate the significance of the role of the young professionals in tackling conflicts, and in peacebuilding efforts. That said, the Youth Day in 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace with the theme- ‘Youth Building Peace’
Let me try to describe what it means for us; as many or most of you may be hearing about ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ and the Sustainable Development Goals, with their embedded objectives to create inclusive and peaceful societies and nations. Take, for example, SDG 16 which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development and provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Or SDG 17, which talks about strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development. Clearly, the role of youth is critical to the attainment of these development goals and subsequently youth will also be largely impacted by the outcome of actions that nations will undertake to realize the SDG agenda—after all, the talk is about our ‘common future’.
The GFAR Strategic Workshop and Steering Committee meeting
Recently, I participated in the GFAR Strategic Workshop and Steering Committee Meeting as the representative for the Youth Constituency at the global level. As a multi-stakeholder-led initiative, GFAR provides a consultative dialogue forum to discuss what constitutes ‘collective action’ in the agricultural research and innovation sector and interestingly, focused attention was provided for youth issues in the dialogues. Let me mention, for example, the YPARD Mentoring programs or the Inter regional youth dialogues.
The meeting and workshop attended by 29 Steering Committee members and the GFAR team (headed by Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary) and representatives of IFAD (Shantanu Mathur) and FAO (Ren Wang, FAO Assistant Director General, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department) provided a platform to openly discuss and critically analyze common interests and joint objectives that will contribute to defining the Key Focus Areas (KFAs ) and ‘Collective Action Design Principles’ of the GFAR Medium Term Plan (MTP 2018-2021) and initiate a discussion on how this approach can be adopted in relation to fulfilling the goals and targets of Agenda 2030.
Building on the discussions from the ‘Strategic Workshop on the Collective Agenda for SDGs’ that was annexed with the Steering Committee meeting, I’m very confident that YPARD will benefit by boosting interaction with GFAR towards realizing the agenda of transforming agricultural production, research and innovation systems. The exchange during the event reinforced a plan for a collective strategy that calls for multi-stakeholder and multi-partner initiatives.
The KFAs of GFAR include: rural communities shaping their own futures; determining rural innovation needs; rights, equity, and empowerment in agroecosystems; access to and value of open data and information and gender & youth focused interventions in the ARD landscape. These KFAs grew out of the six work streams of the current GFAR MTP (Foresight for Better Futures; Partnerships for Impact; Transformative Investments; Capacities for Change; Research in Society and Accountability for Action) and the outcomes of the GCARD3 Global Event in 2016.
For YPARD, it remains important to lead the ‘youth’ dimension in the SDG related discussions, moreso in the ARD context, and work closely with GFAR and its constituent members to accomplish our objectives on mentorship and transformational learning. In addition, the collective agenda action plan will carefully consider alignment with the priorities of UN FAO. As GFAR plans to focus on SDG 17, the multi-stakeholder partnership model and collective agenda approach will also address the targets outlined in SDGs 2,5, 8, 10, & 12. YPARD should make focused efforts to join hands in the strategic partnerships that will empower youth to remain engaged with sustainable development related policy dialogues.
As a representative of the Global Youth Consistency of GFAR, YPARD is all geared up to mobilize inputs from Partners in GFAR, as to what each wishes to accomplish and support their objectives and planned actions towards achieveing the Youth-inclusive SDG agenda. The productive discussions of the meeting assisted me towards understanding the tactics of consensus building in a multiple-partner initiative and process of managing roles, responsibilities, pledges and expectations towards implementing ‘collective action’. If YPARD aims to adopt this collective action thinking, it needs to build a comprehensive understanding of the ‘collective action framework’ and how that lays possibilities towards the accomplishment of SDG goals and targets. The meeting also provided space and opportunity for bilateral discussions with key stakeholders interested in youth issues, to mention among others, regional representatives of Central Asia and the Caucasus, Dr. Alisher Tashmatov (CACAARI) and Near East & North Africa, Dr. Mohammad M. Ajlouni (AARINENA).
Overall, the discussions were crucial to realize the approach (collective action agenda) towards harnessing collective intelligence for common goals, partnership building and shaping an action plan to transform the innovation systems concept from theory to practice. The ‘collective actions’ compiled during the event will be further discussed and developed by those concerned and truly own the youth mandate.
YPARD should position itself to lead this collective agenda for ‘supporting Youth–led movements for change’ in mobilizing and engaging with young people to develop and determine their vision of sustainable futures.
Essentially, the common youth agenda can be effectively accomplished through collaboration and exchange of data, information, and knowledge between various networks and initiatives that are making mindful efforts to enable increased youth involvement in development debates and policy dialogues. The issues at stake are producing more food while using less water, building the resilience of farming communities to cope with floods and droughts, and applying clean water technologies that protect the environment. I would like to see us working closely with GFAR to leverage opportunities for collaboration on domains of common interest, especially in the food security and SDG context.
Together, with GFAR and others, let us explore innovative models of engagement among young professionals and strategies to support the development of youth capacities as they engage in exploring their desired futures in the SDG agenda time period.
Team YPARD, enjoy your day and feel this renewed passion of creating a new world. You may also want to look into the World Programme of Action for Youth that offers a policy framework and applied strategies to advance the situation of young people while “promoting the active involvement of youth in maintaining peace and security”.
This post by Nidhi Nagabhatla was originally published on the YPARD blog. Nidhi is a Programme Officer at UNU INWEH and the Chair of YPARD. On the GFAR Steering Committee she represents Youth at the global level.
Watch an interview with Nidhi during the GFAR Strategic Workshop and Steering Committee meeting:
Check out the video blog ‘Designing the Future of GFAR: Common Values and Commitment Required’ to learn more about the new GFAR.
Photo credits: GFAR