“Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health” – 2021 International Youth Day Statement

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) joins the world in commemorating the United Nations International Youth Day. Every year on 12 August since the year 2000, the world Commemorates this day to draw attention to the plight and needs of youths bearing in mind that they are the leaders of tomorrow. This year, the International Youth Day is being commemorated under the theme “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health.”

Rooted in Goal 2 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030,” the International Youth Day 2021 is an opportunity to examine how as a nation, the government, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organisations, as well as other stakeholders, are empowering youths to contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This day is particularly important to Zimbabwe, given the widespread poverty and hunger that has ravaged communities. According to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) (March 2021) report coordinated by the Food and Nutrition Council, hunger and starvation in Zimbabwe’s urban areas have increased over the past year with 2.4 million people. According to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food Hilal Elver, over 7 million Zimbabweans are food insecure. This is worrisome considering that the 2019 country report by Hilal Elver noted that the food security situation in the country is a man-made phenomenon.

Despite our demographic youth bulge, with over 75% of the population under 35 years, youths have been relegated and cast aside from participating in meaningful political and economic activities. Youths have also been cast aside in development projects that have a bearing on the country’s food security, such as the land redistribution program. The situation is further aggravated by the politicisation of youth development programs, which have largely benefit ruling party youths. The lack of adequate support structures for youths has also thwarted youth innovation, leaving youths susceptible to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Forum notes that every Zimbabwean has a role to play in building a Zimbabwe that supports and provides for its people. The Forum calls upon the young people of Zimbabwe, who many times are used by political actors to perpetrate violence on their fellow brothers, sisters and parents, to make themselves unavailable to entrepreneurs of violence, and rather commit themselves to the pursuit and promotion of a just society through peaceful means.

The Forum therefore calls on the government of Zimbabwe;

  • To implement a youth-friendly development policy that responds to the needs of the youth in Zimbabwe.
  • To support the youth of Zimbabwe by including them in all national processes.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

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