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Climate change, food security and low employment: Engaging youth in agriculture through YPARD

I was invited to present and host the poster session at Agri4D 2017, held in Uppsala, Sweden on 20th and 21st September 2017. The conference revolved around the theme of Rural Transformation and Urbanization and is a collaboration between the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and the Swedish International Agriculture Network Initiative (SIANI). The event attracted more than 200 attendees from organizations and universities based in Sweden and around the world. As the conference was held in SLU, it was great to see masters and Ph.D. students participating as well.

As the new YPARD Sweden country representative, I wanted to make an impact on the potential new YPARD members sitting in the audience, and I had 5 minutes to sway them during my presentation. As a Rural Development and Natural Resource Management student in SLU, I used this platform to address the current issues faced by the global population; climate change, food security and low employment, especially youth unemployment. As we see the effects of climate change severely disrupt food systems, creating famines, droughts, and subsequent conflicts, there is a dramatic increase rural migration as those caught up in these states of crisis flee to cities and more urbanized areas. But what has happened to the food systems? And in these densely populated cities, youth unemployment is skyrocketing.

Agenda 2013, the eradication of poverty was at the centre of the conference, and Rural transformation addresses the social, environmental and economic changes required to ensure that “no one is left behind”, especially the youth. The IFAD 2016 report (a summary of the report can be found here) outlines that the key to poverty reduction is increased productivity of agricultural production, however, this rural transformation must be inclusive. There needs to be a shift in agricultural perceptions, where working in agriculture can lead to stable and enriching job opportunities.

The conference addressed exciting and novel ways to empower smallholders and provide new streams of income, whether, through aquaculture in Asia, or the transforming waste into animal feed, the conference highlighted a lot of ongoing developments within the realms of agriculture. The agenda and information about the conference topics and the keynote speakers can be found here.

One theme running through my presentation was the underrepresentation of youth in agricultural development. I used my platform to address the struggles and barriers of entry that students and graduates need to hurdle in order to contribute to the global development narrative. The importance of networking, collaborating and sharing ideas is at the heart of YPARDs ethos and objectives, and after presenting I had many researchers, students and organizations come up to me to find out how they can get involved with YPARD.

YPARD is an organization that is centered on its members and I hope my introduction as the YPARD representative for Sweden will open doors to expand the organization, increase members and hopefully give me more opportunities to represent YPARD at upcoming events. If you would like to find out what is happening at YPARD Sweden, follow @YPARDSweden on Twitter or get at

Picture credit: picture 1 Karolin Andersson‏ (SEI), pictures 2 and 3 CIAT