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ACT4FOOD: Getting Young People Together To Improve Global Food Systems

There is one agenda that cuts across various SDG’s and that’s of our Food Systems. Not only does it encapsulate ‘Zero Hunger’ and ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’ but our food systems impact almost every development goal.

Priya Prakash | Sep 17, 2021

Today more than half of the world’s population is under the age of 30 and as a collective force, young people have extraordinary potential to mobilize and influence global movements. The Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations are being pushed forward by young leaders internationally such as Malala Yousafzai who fights for Quality Education and Gender Equality and Greta Thunberg for Climate Change.

But there is one agenda that cuts across various SDG’s and that’s of our Food Systems. Not only does it encapsulate ‘Zero Hunger’ and ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’ but our food systems impact almost every development goal. If we think about what we eat every day, where it comes from, what it’s packaged in and how much of it is wasted, we’ll be skimming the surface of the extent of the issues that exist in our food systems and the work that needs to be done to improve them.

Much of the damage has been done in the preceding generations and the consequences are now being born by the younger generations. Young people who have been excluded from political and economic decision-making processes so far, are the ones who will live the longest with the consequences of decisions made today.

A youth-led movement is starting around the world called Act4Food Act4Change which brings together young people from around the world to focus on their actions as a contribution to system change via a global pledge for better food systems by 2030. Anchored by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, the campaign is present in over 30+ countries.

It was my honour to be appointed as the India Ambassador for Act4Food Act4Change Campaign. As Founder & CEO of HealthSetGo, an enterprise that has been working to advocate for health and wellbeing in schools, I knew that we could create advocacy among the youth in schools to raise their voice for better food systems. In India HealthSetGo (HSG)- India's largest health organisation for schools and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) have jointly launched Act4Food Act4Change campaign. This is a global campaign aiming to bring together young people from around the world to focus on their personal actions as a contribution to system change.

The campaign was launched on 12th August, jointly by GAIN and HealthSetGo on the occasion of International Youth Day 2021 which had the theme: “Transforming Food Systems”. We organised India’s first ever India Food Systems Summit 2021 with anaim to highlight that the active participation of young people is critical to accomplishing the SDGs.

It brought together young leaders from India on the same platform as government leaders and businesses to discuss and demand urgent large-scale action to mitigate the crises in the food systems.

The aim of the campaign now is to create Youth Advocates across schools in India who can spread awareness within their schools and colleges on issues related to the food systems. Choosing from topics such as food waste, plastics, farming, sustainable food production etc, they will conduct a session for their peers as well as come up with an action plan that their institution will follow to create tangible impact around these topics.

The campaign will culminate in thousands of students taking the Act4Food Act4Change Pledge which will be presented at the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September. Over 26,000 students have already taken the pledge internationally from around 87 countries.

I believe that the youth have the potential to effect change like never before in the history of our world and it’s through these campaigns that we can achieve the SGDs by 2030.

(The author is a healthcare entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of HealthSetGo. HealthSetGo is India's largest healthcare organisation for school with the vision to establish India's largest network of health promoting schools. HealthSetGo currently operates in over 77 cities across India with 250,000+ students and parents with it’s flagship program CARE which monitors the healthy growth of students at School and generates Intelligent insights for Parents to empower them to take care of their child’s health as well as impart the right Health Education customised to the age of the child.

Priya Prakash also is a Delhi State Level Weightlifter, Tedx Speaker, Crossfit L1 Trainer , and an avid health blogger. She was honoured as Forbes Under 30 Asia 2018 in Healthcare and Sciences and awarded the Unilever Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018. Also, she is winner of Global Citizen Prize 2019.)