At the World Food Forum 2023, The Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM) and the IFAD Youth Network raised the voice of young people as agents of change who promote biodiversity as an approach to combat climate risks in food systems. Almost a hundred young people joined the hybrid side event “Harnessing Biodiversity’s Potential for Managing Climate Risks in Food Systems” on 17 October 2023 to learn more about the critical role of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use to manage agricultural and climate risks while building resilience.
Moderated by Mahoussi Simone Assocle, Biodiversity Specialist at IFAD, the session highlighted youth innovative approaches supporting biodiversity conservation and agricultural risk management. Paxina Chileshe, Regional Climate and Environment Specialist at IFAD, first stressed the importance of biodiversity for food systems and its role in food system transformation. In fact, it is crucial to adapt our current food systems to make them more biodiverse to support nutritional diversity, adaptation options, and ecosystem resilience in light of climate change, combating desertification and other global threats. Adapting our agriculture to make it more respectful to the environment is key to mitigating shocks, boosting productivity, enhancing price stability and consequently creating green jobs.
To further develop on the role of biodiversity in agricultural risks management, Francesca Nugnes, Capacity Development Expert at PARM presented biodiversity as a holistic tool and a nature-based solution that helps tackle risks including – health, pests and diseases, soil erosion, droughts and floods or even production and quality. Strengthening biodiversity conservation, developing capacities, assessing the risks of biodiversity loss and investing to halt biodiversity loss are among the possible actions she proposed to build on for combating climate risks.
Three international young leaders took part in the panel discussion, namely Safietou Sy, Food Safety Risk Management Specialist; Rodrigue Kaje, Young leader at Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYNB); and Brijlal Chaudhari, Founder of Global Home for Indigenous Peoples (GH4IP).
The three panellists shared their perspectives and experiences in the promotion of biodiversity for food security, climate adaptation and resilience. As activists, they stand up to contribute to the protection of biodiversity in their respective lands as well as through traditional knowledge owned by their communities. Their inspirational stories of adaptation through the creation of financial cooperatives at community level, the development of research projects related to a resilient risk management of soil and their advocacy to influence decision makers to transform agreements to actions prove the importance of empowering the youth generation for biodiversity protection. Genna Tesdall, Director of the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) delivered the closing remarks highlighting the importance of turning risks into opportunities and taking into consideration human diversity besides biodiversity.
The event was also an opportunity to promote rural farmers who, in one way or another, contribute to the conservation of biodiversity thanks to their traditional practices, through the PARM Art exhibition FOOD HEROES, portraying the faces of smallholder farmers into artworks, as a result of the PARM Art Challenge launched by PARM in 2021, on the occasion of World Food Day.