By Lucy Holt
This week’s conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice had a mission to give a voice to the voiceless. To ensure that the people who are most vulnerable to climate change and the most marginalized from political processes are represented in the post-2015 development agenda. More than just words, the conference brought nearly a hundred grassroots practitioners to Dublin from Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America to tell their stories, share their experiences, listen and learn from each other, as well as ask questions and demand answers from decision makers in policy, research and aid organizations.
It also brought two World Vision Youth Ambassadors, Mr Alex Nallo and Mr. Salah Hussein, to address the conference on behalf of the most vulnerable and voiceless: the children of today and the unborn children of tomorrow, raising the complex and difficult issues associated with intergenerational climate justice. The two demanded that conference participants think further ahead than a post-2015 agenda and start thinking about a post-2050 agenda, delivering a strong message that 2015 is not the end-point but a chance for a new beginning.
Speaking with all the passion and fire of youth, Mr Nallo recounted his own experiences growing up in Sierra Leone where his family struggled to find daily food. Telling the audience how he woke up one day and realized "if this situation is to change then I must play a role." Children, he said, are the agents of change in their families, their communities and their countries. He called on conference participants to empower those children to become agents of change, by investing in nourishment and education. As Mr Hussein went on to say, 'young people speak from the heart so it is important to listen to them'. Mr Nallo reminded conference participants they hold power, as well as responsibility and accountability, three pressing climate justice issues. It was a sentiment echoed by Al Gore in his closing speech, who said "the young people in all of the countries represented here are looking at us to be bold".
For his part, Mr Hussein brought a flash of youth's creative and innovative flair to the conference. A self-professed inventor, Mr Hussein flipped off a roll of projects he had been personally involved with in his 22 years of life: from helping farmers package and market their products in order to increase sales and demand a better price, to censors that alert farmers when animals enter their fields so they can be chased away. The solutions Mr Hussein described were simple and elegant solutions that tackle food insecurity while increasing livelihoods security.
As Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Ireland said earlier in the day, 'we need to get new minds, young minds into food production'. It was a recurring theme of the conference, with many people wondering how to get more young people interested in agriculture. They are creative, they are flexible, and they can adapt said Mr Hussein, who helps train children to think critically, be creative and come up with innovative solutions to climate change. But they need to be empowered, and one of the foremost ways we need to do that is through nutrition and nourishment. With empty stomachs comes empty minds.
The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is doing its part in supporting youth who research issues related to small-scale farming and food systems through the Climate Food Farming (CLIFF) Research Network program since 2010. The program not only provides doctoral students with research grants but also helps to connect them with researchers in their field, building a network that grows each year. Click here to read more about our plans for the CLIFF program.
Lucy Holt is a Communications Assistant at the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The CCAFS team is reporting live from the Hunger, Nutrition, Climate Justice conference in Dublin from 15-16 April 2013. Watch live webcasts at www.eu2013.ie and follow updates on the CCAFS blog. Engage with us on twitter @cgiarclimate using #HNCJ