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FAO and WFF Launch Young Scientists Group: Opens applications to 2nd edition of WFF Transformative Research Challenge

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Forum (WFF) have launched the WFF’s first-ever cohort of the Young Scientists Group  and called for applications to the second edition of the WFF Transformative Research Challenge

The initiatives were presented at a side event this week at the multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), titled “Youth-led solutions for a better food future.” The side event highlighted the essential role of young scientists in identifying and scaling up innovative solutions to achieve the SDGs and positive agrifood systems transformation, with a specific focus on the 2022 WFF theme “Healthy diets. Healthy Planet”.

“Young researchers have the potential to bring massive impact,” said Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in her opening remarks to the event.

“We are counting on youth to drive change,” said Ismahane Elouafi, FAO Chief Scientist. 

The WFF Young Scientists Group consists of 20 young scientists from around the world who will provide scientific evidence and technical knowledge to the various initiatives of the WFF as well as develop an annual WFF Young Scientists report on specific policy issues that are of particular concern to youth, related to agrifood systems transformation. The 2022 YSG cohort announced at the event includes:

Kim Anastasiou, Australia; Peter Asare-Nuamah, Ghana; Craig Chibanda, Zimbabwe; Shulang Fei, China; Imad Antoine Ibrahim, Lebanon; Alice Karanja, Kenya; Pacem Kotchofa, Benin; Lethicia Magno, Brazil; Clarity Mapengo, Zimbabwe; Sarah I. Murphy, USA; Ram Neupane, Nepal; Dinesh Panday, Nepal; Elisa Quaranta, Italy; Abdulkareem Raheem, Nigeria; Andrea Rosso, Italy; Michael Ruggeri, Italy; Jiang Shangchuan, China; Joanna Trewern, UK; Edy Trihatmoko, Indonesia; and Ambrogio Zanzi, Italy.

“This community of young scientists better understands the needs, feelings and concerns of youth, and are also an important source of energy, capable of mobilizing critical mass for just causes,” said event speaker Ibrahima Hathie, who is one of the 15 scientists appointed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to draft the 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report.

“The Young Scientists Group has come to stay to provide reliable credible and policy-based initiatives,” said YSG cohort member Peter Asare-Nuamah. “The group is an opportunity for us to learn by contributing to global challenges such as climate change and food security. Therefore, we must be strong. We must be confident that we can change the narrative.”

In addition to launching the Young Scientists Group at the side event, the WFF also announced an open call for applications for the 2022 Transformative Research Challenge (TRC), a research competition designed to foster and promote innovation in sustainable development to end hunger and transform agrifood systems.

Last year’s TRC winner, Nafn Amdar, invited young and young-at-heart researchers to submit a two-page concept note proposing an innovative research idea focusing on issues related to healthy diets and climate action. The deadline for applications is 6 June 2022. Shortlisted entrants will receive expert mentorship to help translate their concepts into sound research papers and present them at the WFF global stage in October 2022.

About the World Food Forum

Launched in 2021, the World Food Forum (WFF) is an independent global network of partners facilitated by FAO. It was created for and is led by youth to spark a global movement that empowers young people to actively shape our agrifood systems with the aim to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a better food future for all.

The WFF serves as the premier platform to engage and harness the passion of youth to galvanize action and identify solutions to the growing challenges facing our agrifood systems. It convenes and connects major youth groups, influencers, companies, academic institutions, non-profits, governments, media and the public to drive awareness, foster engagement and advocacy, and mobilize resources in support of agrifood systems transformation. Featuring a range of interactive online events, networks and content platforms, the WFF is organized around four thematic tracks: Youth action, Innovation, Education and Culture. In 2021, The WFF brought together more than 40,000 young and young-at-heart people from around the world, and over 75 youth and youth-allied partners from all sectors.

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