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Responding to the UN’s SDGs through Bayer’s Youth Ag-Summit and 4-H

The world’s global food supply is under incredible pressure. Every day, the world’s population is increasing by 233,000 people and we’re tasked to produce more and more food to feed a growing population with a smaller rural labour force.

The Youth Ag-Summit was hosted by Bayer in Brussels, Belgium this past October. At the conference almost 50 nations were represented, with 100 youth delegates from around the world. From Canada there were four representatives; Brandon Hebor and Alexis Wagner from Ontario, Cameron Olson from Alberta and myself from Nova Scotia. Of the four, Cameron and I were sent to represent 4-H Canada. I was involved in 4-H for four years and tried to get involved in as much as possible during that time. Through 4-H, I had the privilege to go to the Going Global Service Learning program in Ghana, Africa in the summer of 2016. 4-H empowered me to love agriculture, and specifically want to get involved in food security and justice issues.

Youth aged 18-25 were challenged to write a paper on solutions that youth could create for the Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 objectives the United Nations wish to achieve by 2030. The organizers of the conference selected the winning papers, and narrowed down the paper topics to the five most prevalent SDGs discussed by delegates.  These SDGs were gender equality, climate action, quality education, innovation and responsible production. These identified SDGs were incorporated by creating the "Thrive for Change" competition, which divided all of the delegates into groups, focusing on creating a solution for that specific Sustainable Development Goal.

Excluding myself there were nine other delegates in my group. At the conference we started our project by asking how we could address a systemic issue like gender inequality. We decided on creating a digital platform that will connect young women to opportunities and funding within the local and international community.  We are dividing our website into three categories; education, funding and opportunities. We hope to work with organizations to help create educational programs that help young women learn more about local business and agricultural practices. We hope that organizations will help us create a website that offers open source information.

bayer picIn many developing countries young people are less likely to get involved in agriculture, as there is still stigma that agriculture is for poor or uneducated people. This is especially true for women, who are also discouraged from being in positions of power and rising above sustenance farming. For this reason, we specifically decided to pilot our project in Kenya, where gender inequality in agriculture is a major issue. This is why our website will connect young women to opportunities and funding specifically geared toward women, domestically and internationally.

We intend for our website to be a facilitator of funds and education, creating empowerment through the individual choices young women make. Our goal is to get as many women educated in local business and agriculture as possible, as education for educations sake is never a bad thing. We hope to empower young women to become leaders in their communities and to be role models for the next generation.

In 4-H we are taught to ‘Learn To Do By Doing.’ For me, this project has been about channeling passion into a project and attempting to make it a reality. Although there's risk that it may not work out perfectly, our group is convinced that whenever we experience a failure, we will learn to fail better. We have been very fortunate to start this avenue with the $10,000 Euro prize we received at the conference, and we all look forward to seeing what the future holds.

If 4-H has taught me anything, it's that people will support and believe in you. Find your place in the world and follow that passion, because adventure and rewarding opportunities are bound to find you.