Youth can join leaders around world in efforts to end global hunger by 2030

Through volunteer-led educational experiences, youth can learn more about Goal 2 of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, which seeks to end global hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

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As people around the world seek solutions for solving some of our planet’s most daunting challenges, youth have a unique and valuable role to play as leaders and active global citizens. One of the most significant challenges for our global population in the coming years may be ensuring that all people have access to a diet sufficient enough to ensure a healthy and productive livelihood. Adults and older youth can help younger youth understand the challenges of global food security, and can facilitate positive educational experiences that allow youth to take leadership for addressing global food security issues. A great place to start is by helping youth explore “zero hunger”, which is Goal 2 of the U.N.’s recently adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the U.N., “On Jan. 1, 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic U. N. Summit — officially came into force. Over the next 15 years, with these new goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.”

Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals seeks to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” According to the U.N., one in nine people in the world today (795 million people) are undernourished and most hungry people live in developing countries. Hunger and malnutrition have significant effects on children, in particular, on a global scale. According to the U.N., “Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45 percent) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year,” and 25 percent of children worldwide suffer from “stunted growth” as a result of poor nutrition.

Specific targets of Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals are, by the year 2030, to end hunger and malnutrition, provide adequate nutrition for young girls, pregnant and breast-feeding women and the elderly, increase the productivity and income of small-scale farmers and ensure environmentally friendly and sustainable farming practices. Goal 2 also seeks to protect the diversity of seeds, plants and animals through seed and plant banks, eliminate agricultural export subsidies and limit extreme food price volatility.

Adults and older youth who are working with young people in 4-H and other non-formal educational clubs, or in other educational settings, can help young people learn about global hunger and food security. There are many free resources available to help adults and older youth facilitate educational experiences for young people around these topics. For general background information on global hunger, the World Food Programme is an excellent place to start. The website includes statistics about the current state of world hunger, facts about hunger and malnutrition in many different countries, a good set of answers to frequently asked questions about hunger and a Hunger Map that shows the prevalence of undernourishment in countries around the world. The World Food Programme website also has many lesson plans and teaching activities, developed in partnership with 4-H, that can be used with groups of upper elementary and middle school aged youth to teach lessons related to global hunger and food security.

Another source for lesson plans that could easily be adapted for use in 4-H or other youth groups is available from Plan International, a Canadian-based, non-governmental organization. Plan International’s Food Security lesson plan includes good background materials as well as two activities volunteers can easily use to engage young learners in experiential-based education focused on hunger and food security.

High school aged youth can learn more about global food security by participating in a youth program coordinated by the World Food Prize. The World Food Prize State Youth Institute program provides high school aged youth with the opportunity to write a short research paper based on a global food security “factor” of their choice while focusing on the food security of a specific developing nation. In many states, including Michigan, youth participants gather together for an in-person event where they share the results of their research papers and interact with leaders who are engaged in addressing global food security factors. The 2016 World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute is May 12, 2016, on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. MSU Extension along with the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan 4-H, Michigan FFA and the World Food Prize work in collaboration to lead the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute.

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