The CSIPM supports the endorsement of the CFS Policy Recommendations on Promoting Youth Engagement and Employment in Agriculture and Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition. However, this explanatory statement expresses the CSIPM’s reservations on the final text of the policy product.
First, the CSIPM dissociates with all textual references to youth “in diverse situations and conditions” (paras. 1(b), and 1(f)). This language does not recognize the diversity of youth, particularly with respect to multiple, intersecting identities and the identities of persons historically subjected to discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The CSIPM also takes serious issue with the exclusion of peasants as a key constituency to be addressed by these recommendations and consulted for their implementation (rationale para. 6).
Second, the CSIPM notes the great failure of the policy product to explicitly recognize women’s rights. In addition, we disassociate from the caveats attached to human rights in the recommendations, particularly the caveat of “as far as they have been agreed, acknowledged and/or endorsed” before UNDROP, UNDRIP, CEDAW, and other human rights instruments (footnote 3) as well as the caveat “as applicable” attached to all references to the right of Indigenous Peoples to free, prior and informed consent (paras. 4(e), 4(g), 5(g)). These caveats make the references inconsistent with international law. Similarly, the CSIPM disassociates from the recommendation of “reducing” youth exposure to hazards, as it offers far less to peasants and other people working in rural areas than their “right to avoid the use or exposure to hazardous substances or toxic chemicals, including agrochemicals or agricultural or industrial pollutants” (UNDROP, art. 14(2)).
Third, the CSIPM disassociates from language calling for “equitable access” to productive resources (para. 3(a)), rather than recognizing that youth have human rights to these sources of life, including rights to land, seeds and water as enshrined in UNDROP and UNDRIP.
Fourth, the CSIPM disassociates from references to “other innovative approaches” that the recommendations situate alongside agroecology (paras. 2(j), 4(c), 4(d)). In conflating these approaches, the recommendations fail to recognize the transformative potential of agroecology.
Fifth, the policy recommendations do not account for the agency of youth across all sectors of agriculture and food systems. Food sovereignty – which was central to the HLPE report on youth but not accepted into final text of the policy product – incorporates various dimensions of youth agency as well as the fundamental importance of human rights for the radical transformation of food systems. The CSIPM therefore disassociates from the multiple phrases supporting youth entrepreneurship (rationale 1 and paras. 2(b), 2(e), 3(e), 3(j), 4(e) and 5(e)) due to the overall lack of balance in the document.
Sixth, the CSIPM dissociates from the weak language on young people’s ownership and control over digital and other tools and their data (paras. 5(b), 5(d), 5(f) and 5(g)). The policy recommendations fail to formulate a conception of innovation that acknowledges diverse forms of social, technical and cultural innovations that support transitions towards economies of well-being (HLPE youth report, p. xiv).
Finally, the CSIPM has serious concerns about the treatment of the HLPE report in the negotiation process, in particular the failure to take seriously the HLPE’s scientific assessment of the structural challenges for youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems. The CSIPM therefore disassociates itself from the language describing these policy recommendations as “informed by” the HLPE report. Had these recommendations truly been informed by the HLPE, they would have offered the steps forward for the urgently needed radical transformation of our food systems.