In October 2019, at its 46th session, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) to prepare a report to review the opportunities for and constraints to youth engagement and employment in sustainable food systems. This report articulates a conceptual framework to understand the role of youth as agents of change in the transformation of food systems. The report analyses specific policy themes, such as employment, resources, knowledge and innovations, to articulate recommendations to enhance youth’s role in food systems and contribute to meeting SDG 2 targets and the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The report assesses the opportunities and challenges for youth engagement and employment in food systems to be part of an urgent readjustment of social and economic life towards an economy of well-being. This approach envisions re-balancing relations between human and living nature—especially in the face of climate and health crises—towards upholding the right to food, dignified and rewarding livelihoods, and relationships based on cooperation and solidarity. The goal of “living well” requires a holistic perspective, challenging business-as-usual approaches to economic growth and acknowledging that youth transitions and their engagement in food systems are shaped by the intersections of multiple factors and structural constraints.

This report provides a synthesis of policy recommendations for promoting the engagement and employment of young people in food systems. The recommended actions will require that states, civil society, farmers’ and workers’ organizations, the private sector, social movements, and youth themselves work together with the aim to realize a fundamental transformation of food systems towards sustainability, well-being and food sovereignty. This report summarizes the range of institutions, approaches, policies and actions that can promote young people’s inclusive, equitable, productive and rewarding engagement in renewing food systems.