Sustainability 101, youth and nutrition as the centre of the Food Systems Summit.
A blog by: Ana Sidhu*, Dolço Muchanga**, and Webster Makombe***
In a world that believes that the youth are leaders of tomorrow, sadly, tomorrow never comes. Webster Makombe thinks back to a time where his Uncle ran the school kiosk in his neighborhood. His Uncle always said that he could get a free candy, “tomorrow”. This was when Makombe was 6; now he is 21 and still waiting for his free candy because of all the times he went there and would be turned away by his Uncle saying, “come back tomorrow”. Makombe’s example puts into great perspective what youth have been told for years when it comes to using their voice. This blog post is just one catalyst in increasing the voice of youth regarding food systems from a nutrition centred perspective written by youth for the empowerment of youth while having a closer look at the Action Tracks.
In exploring Action Track 1, there are many sectors that need to combine ideas and efforts to achieve the objective of having access to safe and nutritious food for all. This objective aims to dismantle the challenges that revolve around working to end hunger for all while also enabling nourished and healthy civilians. In the private sector, companies need to create or develop nutritious products and create ways to reduce their production costs to make their products available and affordable to the consumers. Dolço Muchanga is one example of a youth leader and young entrepreneur in Mozambique working to address malnutrition in all its forms. He says that one way to address malnutrition is to avoid wasting raw materials, reusing valuable products destroyed or discarded in other food production industries, such as broken rice, different crops, and so on. By using this product and transforming it into another kind of product, it is adding value. This is one avenue the private sector can pursue to make giant leaps into achieving the solutions that we all desire. Companies and governments need to collaborate by creating policies that improve the working environment while making necessary resources available to assist and accelerate companies’ work.
Action Track 3 promotes the discussion around supporting and equipping smallholder farmers alongside small-scale enterprises to add to the food value chain. This can be seen through our everyday consumption of food. For example, one-third of the food produced is never eaten. To achieve this Action Track, there must be an emphasis placed on the localization of food systems while empowering those with traditional knowledge. Youth Leader for Nutrition Ana Sidhu has found great joy in learning from her elders, who are farmers in India, as they taught her their solutions to improve crop yields and increase soil biodiversity. She has applied these traditional teachings to her life in Canada by enhancing locally relevant practices to improve her community’s well-being. For example, she applied for a grant while in High School to build an aquaponics tank to showcase an innovative solution to food production that plays an essential role in sustainable and nutritious food systems. The aquaponics tank is still running today, allowing her younger brother to learn from it as he attends the same High School.
Action Track 5 aims to address our ongoing challenges with COVID-19 while maintaining the importance of its proposed solutions in safeguarding our food systems during shocks and stresses. There is no “one size fits all solution,” however, with initiatives driven by citizens in their own respective communities, inclusive and equitable food systems can be possible. Ana Sidhu applies this action track by building and fostering continued relationships with her Indigenous friends and their families. She takes part in making their traditional foods and carries that knowledge further to her family and friends. Her favorite recipe is bannock, a type of bread that takes a flat oval-shaped disc. Inuit call it palauga, Mi’kmaq luskinikn, and Ojibwa ba‘wezhiganag. This form of engagement strengthens relationships between individuals from different cultures and generations further promoting the resiliency of food systems through traditional Indigenous food practices. By doing so, Ana has shown the particular importance of holistic and intersectional approaches to making nutrition the heart of Action Track 5 in her example.
Food systems impact our day to day lives through many different contexts. By informing ourselves on the challenges that we currently face and presenting innovative solutions, we are already taking the first step in ensuring sustainable livelihoods for all and a bright future for our planet. Providing nutritious food for all is critical in transitioning to an ideal food system. Together, these Action Tracks offer a small glimpse into the ways that citizens can become leaders in this transformational pathway.