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Pope encourages young people in effort to shape better future for food

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, reads a video message on behalf of Pope Francis, addressing young people participating in the World Food Forum (WFF).
World Food Forum - a youth-led movement and network that aims to achieve "zero hunger".

Pope Francis on Friday urged a youth-led movement, which aims to tackle the world’s food crisis by transforming global food systems, not to tire in working together to ensure that everyone can afford a dignified life. 

In a video message read on the Pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy Father encouraged young people gathered at the online World Food Forum (WFF), October 1 to 5, to “remain united and steadfast” in their purpose “for a better future”.  

The WFF is an innovative youth-led movement and network that aims to transform agri-food systems and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, “zero hunger”.   

It was initiated by the Youth Committee of the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO), a Rome-based United Nations specialized agency, which leads international efforts to sustainably defeat hunger and malnutrition.

Addressing FAO Director-General, Qu Dongyu, the Pope thanked him for his wisdom in convening the “significant gathering and to lend support to a new generation of leaders who are hungry for justice".

Young people around the world, he pointed out, are cultivating their creativity and energy to address the structural causes of the current food crisis, from protracted armed conflicts to the devastating effects of climate change.

“Their sense of belonging to the same community and to the planet gives them a powerful sense of urgency to act and solve the challenges afflicting the human family in new ways.” He said that their gift to us is to bring innovative solutions to address old problems and the courage not to be constrained by myopic thinking that resists change.

Recalling the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) held on September 23, the Pope pointed out that world leaders pledged to work together to achieve the realization of SDG 2, which battles to eradicate hunger in the world. 

He said, “their words are a promise to our brothers and sisters, to our sons and daughters and to our grandchildren.”

With this conviction, the Holy Father asked young people gathered at the WFF “to remain united and steadfast” in their purpose.

He urged them not to be “petty” in their dreams, “strive for a better future and turn those aspirations into concrete and meaningful actions”. He asked them to “leave behind routines and false mirages and regenerate this world so shaken by the pandemic”. This, he said, “will be a happy reality if you sow solidarity, creativity and nobility of spirit.”

The Pope also urged world leaders who committed themselves to fulfil their promises in recent months, “not disappoint the new generations”.  

He asked them to look into the eyes of the young people who are asking for change, to listen to their concerns and be inspired by their vision, saying, “it is our present that will define their future”.

“Let us be remembered for our resolve to be hopeful in the face of despair and to stand united in the mission to ensure that no one is left without the means to lead a dignified life,” the Pope urged.

Launched in March 2021, the WFF is an independent global network of partners created by and for youth, and consisting of major youth groups, influencers, international organizations, companies, academic institutions, non-profits, governments, media and the public. Aligning itself with the core principles of the UNFSS, the WFF aims to serve as an ongoing platform to engage youth, galvanize action and identify solutions to the growing challenges facing local, regional and global agri-food systems. 

The 5-day flagship WFF event brings together global youth and key partners across music, film, cooking, education, innovation and action to empower youth for a better food future. 

Participants from the private sector include Ramon Laguarta, CEO of PepsiCo, Kimbal Musk, Co-Founder and Chairman of Big Green, The Kitchen Restaurant Group and Square Roots, and Frank Giustra, Co-Chair of the International Crisis Group. 

The Forum includes performances and demonstrations by Nigerian singer and songwriter Brymo, German musician Keye Katcher, vegan model and influencer Natalie Prabha, chef and writer Carla Lalli Music, Poet Meera Dasgupta and others.

FAO’s Youth Committee that initiated the WFF was established by Dongyu in 2019 to tap into the potential of young employees as catalysts for change and to spark a global youth movement for a better food future for all. - Vatican News

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