Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health.

| August 12, 2021

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Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health.

 The International Youth Day was first observed on 12 August 2000. It is a day set aside by the United Nations (UN) to provide a platform for young peoples' views and initiatives on current global priorities like the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, and migration on a worldwide scale. It is also a day set aside to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding the youth to highlight the importance of their contribution and participation in world issues.

This International Youth Day’s theme is ‘Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health’. Asides from being under SDG 2, this theme is also significant because of the increasing population worldwide. According to a 2019 UN Report, the world's population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years. We believe that through sensitization, education, and empowerment, we can inspire youths to create entrepreneurial solutions that can bring about changes, including sustainable food systems.

The food system is vast. It not only pertains to bringing an end to hunger and providing farmers with favourable farming conditions, but also includes addressing issues like climate change and population health. Under population health, it circles health challenges caused by poor eating habits and zoonotic diseases.

Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can naturally be transmitted/spread between animals (usually vertebrates) and humans. These diseases can be caused by viruses, fungi, parasites, and bacteria. Over the years, there has been an upsurge in zoonotic disease occurrences from Ebola to Lassa Fever, and COVID-19.

Already, our Women Techsters and Bootcamp beneficiaries have started to work on projects to address these issues. Two groups worked on food projects. One of them is called Farm to table, and the other is Project Green Store. The former is a Web Portal for farmers to showcase farm produce and link them to other buyers, while the latter is an app that can connect smallscale farmers to market access and help contribute to sustainable farming, especially in developing countries.

Other groups worked on a birth control app to help check the population, an analysis of climate change and crop production in developing countries using Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa as case studies; a zoonotic disease monitoring app starting with Corona Virus.

We are excited about this – to see young people think through existing problems and create technological solutions to them – and it has further strengthened our convictions. To achieve the sustainable change we all seek, the contribution and participation of young people in global issues should be encouraged.