Home News International Youth Day 2021: “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”

International Youth Day 2021: “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”

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Thelma Wandayi

GWERU: International Youth Day is a day set aside to recognize and give voice to the initiatives and actions taken by young people across the globe.

This year’s theme, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health,” reflects on the efforts done by youths, making a difference in climate justice and food security.

Issues such as climate change, healthcare, social inclusion, biodiversity are in the spotlight. 

According to the United Nations, the theme highlights the need for “inclusive support mechanisms that ensure youths continue to amplify efforts collectively and individually to restore the planet and protect life while integrating biodiversity in the transformation of food systems.” 

However, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected young people’s livelihoods, particularly concerning human health, the environment, and food security.

Speaking to CommuTalk, Takudzwa Samhembere, a youth ambassador for the SDG’S highlighted challenges that Zimbabwean youths are facing during this pandemic. The challenges include the high rate of unemployment and not having access and adequate health care.

“The impact of Covid 19 has been devastating as unemployment rates have increased, as well a lot of young do not have access to health care systems and in terms of social inclusion a lot of young people are not involved in policymaking.

“Unfortunately, in terms of climate change, many young people have joined in activities that lead to land degradation and deforestation due to economic problems which sadly harms our environment,” said Samhembere.

He also stressed the need for youth to participate in a lot of programs, especially in policymaking as there is a need for youths to make informed decisions.

“It is important for young people to contribute to the issues that affect them and policymaking so that their voices and views can be heard as it has an impact on their livelihoods”, he further said.

In a statement, Youth Coalition Cluster on International Youth day also shared the same sentiments on youth participation. 

“Youth Coalition Cluster applauds the UN for acknowledging that no meaningful development can take place without the effective participation of youths and this year’s theme aptly captures the global body’s commitment to support and encourage member states, Zimbabwe included, to push towards increased youth participation. Youth participation is of paramount importance. Participation at all fronts, political, social, economic and cultural”, the organization wrote in a statement. 

Youth Ambassador, Tafadzwa Makore, from Young Men’s Christian Association weighed in saying that the pandemic had caused loss of jobs. This led to health-related issues such as young people engaging in alcohol and drug abuse and a lot of them suffering mental health.

“The pandemic has caused a lot of challenges to young people one of them being on the mental health which a lot of young people going through mental stress. It is our duty as young people to advocate and raise awareness through various platforms and discussing such issues,” said Makore

Adding on, the Young Journalists Association believe that there is a need for empowered youth to create a strong economy as this would ensure that young people are capacitated with the required skills in all sectors.

“This year’s international day of the youth comes at a time when young people are still excluded from the mainstream economic, political and social spheres. We call upon the government of Zimbabwe to recognize young people by ensuring that they get opportunities in different sectors of the economy”, said the president, Mlondolozi Ndlovu.

The strategic leader of Young People in Zimbabwe Charles Munganasa stated that young people had a role to play in agriculture and food security which was important to the development of the country.

“Young people have a big role to play and this theme is in line with the National Development Strategy of Zimbabwe which is about ensuring a food security economy based on agriculture”, he said

“For Zimbabwe to return its bread and basket status this can only be done if we have young people partaking extensively in the development of food production from all stages from primary and secondary with their relevant innovative ideas”, he further explained.

He also highlighted that farming on a large scale was important in terms of food production and manufacturing as it plays a key role in the economy and the wellbeing of Zimbabweans health, especially in producing organic foods.

“Food production is important as it plays a key role to the economy and as well to our health as Zimbabweans in producing organic foods which are good for our bodies and as young Zimbabweans, we must develop our nation for future generations just as our forefathers fought for us and this nation”, said Munganasa

Courtney Mantiziba is one of the innovative people who mentors and empowers young people says that there is hope for Zimbabwe in planetary action.

“I have worked with a lot of young people and most of them have come up with innovative ideas such as young Davidzo from Mufakose. A young man doing vermiculture in his backyard, transforming biodegradable waste into compost for vegetables. He also grows moringa seeds as an alternative for goat feed which is sustainable and benefits the community during this pandemic. I believe this is one of the positive actions that youth are doing-especially in light of the International Youth Day”, said Mantiziba

In a video message, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that the highlight of this year’s International Youth Day will be on “solutions developed by young innovators to address challenges to our food systems”.

He said that youngsters were on the “frontlines of the struggle to build a better future for all.” He urged everyone “to guarantee young people a seat at the table as we build a world based on inclusive, fair, and sustainable development for all”.

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