The third edition of the Youth Ag-Summit kicked off on 9 October, with 100 bright young talents from around the world arriving in Brussels, Belgium, to tackle one of humanity’s biggest challenges: how to feed a growing population in a more sustainable manner. Organised by Bayer, together with the two Belgian young farmers associations Groene Kring (GK) and Fédération des Jeunes Agriculteurs (FJA), the summit aims to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end hunger, achieve food security, and promote sustainable agriculture.
During the summit, delegates from 49 countries, including two students from South Africa – who range from age 18 to 25 – will work together to generate innovative, sustainable and actionable solutions to global food security challenges. Their mission is to come up with concrete new ideas, which can drive agricultural progress across the globe and be put into practice back home.
‘For the UN SDGs to be reached, everyone needs to do their part. By inspiring our youth to advocate for science and sustainable agriculture, we hope to tap into the creativity of great young minds to help solve a major societal challenge,’ says Liam Condon, member of the board of management of Bayer AG and president of the crop science division. ‘The Youth Ag-Summit is always a hotbed of enthusiasm, creative thinking, and innovation.’
This year, Youth Ag-Summit delegates will hear from expert and inspirational speakers including Professor Louise O. Fresco, president of Wageningen University & Research, Caleb Harper, director of open agriculture (OpenAG) initiative, MIT Media Lab, Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen and many more.
As well as talks designed to spark their creativity, delegates will have the opportunity to tour the EU institutions and meet with European policymakers, visit one of Bayer’s innovative sustainable farming sites, and gain real-world insights into sustainability in action from companies and organisations such as Rabobank, CropTrust, Thought for Food, BioBest, International Society for Horticultural Science, VIB – Flemish Institute for Biotech, Inagro, University Ghent and Ahold Delhaize Group.
Speaking about the partnership with Bayer, national chairman of Groene Kring, Giel Boey said, ‘We are very pleased to co-host this event, which gives young people the chance to collaborate and act on solutions for sustainable agriculture – rather than just thinking, they will be DOING.’
‘We need to restore the connection between those who produce our food and those who consume it. We’re proud to be this year’s co-host and are certain that the delegates’ work will have a positive impact in their communities and beyond,’ added Guillaume Van Binst, secretary general of the Fédération des Jeunes Agriculteurs.
Throughout the week, delegates will work to develop “Thrive for Change Projects”, concrete ideas to help achieve the UN SDGs in their communities and countries. Following a pitch process, the strongest ideas will be selected for future funding and development by Bayer.