4-H Youth Ag Summit discusses feeding the planet
By 4-H Canada
By 4-H Canada
Oct. 3, 2013, Ottawa, ON – One hundred and eighteen youth from 20 countries worldwide met in Calgary, Alberta recently to tackle one of the world’s biggest challenges: feeding a hungry planet. These leading youth were delegates at the 4-H Youth Ag-Summit, a first of its kind, global event organized by 4-H Canada and Bayer CropScience Canada.
The Summit organizers received more than 500 applications from youth around the world between the ages of 18 to 25 who wanted to be part of the event. Each applicant submitted a written or video essay that framed the issues they see in their community and around the world, proposed viable solutions and addressed how they would utilize the Summit to progress change.
“It’s estimated that by 2050, less than 37 years from now, there will be an additional 2 billion people on the planet to feed,” explains Mathieu Rouleau a delegate from Quebec, Canada who grew up on his family’s dairy farm. “Our generation will need to deal with the problem of feeding all of these people, which is why we need to come together now to start working towards a solution.”
The week-long summit, which took place between August 19th and 25th, had the delegates participating in a full schedule of presentations, debates, discussions, group work, tours and networking. The first day was about goal-setting and started with an opening celebration that included a Calgary Stampede breakfast and the world famous ‘white hat’ ceremony. The following three days were themed around innovation, sustainability and leadership, pushing the delegates to dig deep on this complex issue.
Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi spoke at the opening ceremony on Tuesday and challenged each delegate to do three things to better their communities and advance the need to feed more people. As a result more than 354 personal pledges have been made by the delegates who returned home as ambassadors for change.
“When we developed the program we knew we wanted the delegates to move from challenges to solutions, developing an action plan for change that they would be responsible for realizing at home and globally,” says Valerie Pearson, Canadian 4-H Council President.
After almost a week of working together, eight delegate groups presented their visions for how we will feed more people. For the delegates the major issues included increasing consumer awareness of the agriculture industry, reducing food waste, battling the effects of climate change and coping with a growing human footprint.
“It took a lot of work and there were a lot of great ideas, but in the end we came together and decided on one vision: to increase sustainable access to nutrient-dense food for women and children world-wide, to alleviate global hunger,” explains Jacob Onyschuk, a delegate from Alberta, Canada who was elected Saturday to represent the country as part of the executive committee now responsible for bringing this vision to life.
“Women are the world’s primary food producers responsible for producing 60 to 80 per cent of all food in developing countries and almost half of the food we consume worldwide,” explains Derrick Rozdeba, Manager, Marketing Communications for Bayer CropScience Canada. “What the delegates have acknowledged is that by empowering these women and enabling them to produce more food we can increase the food supply for all men, women and children on the planet.”
To ensure that the newly elected board, which consist of delegates and mentors from around the world, can fulfill their new cause Bayer CropScience Canada and 4-H Canada announced at the closing banquet that each organization will donate $20,000 to help the board get started.