Protecting our rights and enabling our agency
for the present and future of our health, societies, cultures, knowledges and ecosystems
CSM Youth Working Group
Covid-19 and the responses of governments are having devastating impacts on young people and our communities around the globe. We are experiencing the combined impacts of an acute health crisis, a current and looming food crisis, and a climate crisis – all illustrative of wider systems crises. Covid-19 has shown that neoliberal food, economic, governance and development/production systems are not working. Not only are they part of the problem – creating the underlying hunger, poverty, environmental destruction and social exclusion that responses to Covid-19 have exacerbated – but they are unable to offer solutions to these unfolding crises.
In this time of multiple crises, Youth are facing several challenges. As markets fail, schools close, and jobs disappear, we see opportunities and our futures crumble away. However, we are not standing idly by. We, as a diverse community of Youth from around the globe, are active in developing solutions to the challenges facing our communities: we are organizing ourselves to continue providing food for our communities and caring for the elderly as well as our children; we are shortening the distance from producer to consumer; we are defending school feeding programs and local markets; we are rebuilding rural economies and territories, ensuring youth can stay and return in the countryside; we are caring for and healing the earth by growing nourishing food through agroecology; we are standing up to domestic violence against women and girls as well as racism, homophobia, xenophobia and the patriarchy; and, we are defending workers’ and migrants’ rights as well as the rights of rural people. We are also imagining new ways to organize the world: envisioning healthy, sustainable and dignified food systems, and taking steps towards achieving them. In our own constituencies and territories, and now here at the CFS, we are elaborating public policy demands to ensure that radical transformations occur NOW, before it is too late.
Young people are often presented as beacons of hope for the future. The expectation is on us to imagine and enact solutions to the world’s problems that we have inherited. We do have solutions, but to bring them forward, we need a seat at the table. Similarly, young people are often depicted as a monolith – with a singular set of interests and expectations. But we have a plurality of identities as well as understandings, experiences, knowledge and expectations towards the future. We need mechanisms to ensure our plurality is respected, and our meaningful participation in political discussions on issues that directly impact us and our futures is guaranteed. We are not only here to talk, but to work with governments in the CFS to advance the progressive realization of the human right to food and all interconnected and indivisible human rights. Further still, we are ready to lead, to present our vision, to create and take space, and to work together towards a better future.
This Declaration, prepared by the CSM Youth Working Group, is the outcome of a participatory process of sharing experiences, struggles, visions and solutions. The youths engaged in this process represent perspectives from all CSM constituencies: smallholder producers, urban food insecure, consumers, young women, men and non-binary youths, food and agriculture workers including migrant and seasonal workers, pastoralist youths, Indigenous Peoples, fisherfolk, hunters and gatherers, and students. They are based in India, Mozambique, Australia, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, Brazil, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Argentina, Kenya, and the United States.
In the Declaration, we share how we and our communities have been experiencing the recent months, how we have been responding, and what our demands to our governments and the international community are. These policy demands not only respond to Covid-19, but will put us on a path towards building healthy, sustainable, resilient and dignified food systems for all.