To achieve a world with no hunger, young people in rural areas play a critical role. There is huge potential for youth to contribute to rural development, especially in Africa where 440 million young people will be entering the labor force between now and 2030, mostly in rural areas.
To help unlock the potential of the young generations, Germany hosted the G20 conference “ONE WORLD – No Hunger. Future of the rural world” on 27-28 April, 2017 in Berlin. Stakeholders from government, the private sector, academia, and civil society from around the world articulated commitments for rural development and youth in the Berlin Charter, which was discussed and officially presented at the conference.
IFPRI director general Shenggen Fan served on the International Advisory Committee to help guide the development of the Charter—a timely and important declaration of commitment under the commendable leadership of Germany. Dr. Fan, who was one of the Charter signatories, gave a keynote at the conference on reforming governance and finance for rural development. He also served on a panel discussing evidence-based contributions of international agricultural research for rural development, rural employment, and opportunities for youth.
International agricultural research centers can continue to contribute to the vision of a world without hunger. In the panel, Dr. Fan provided examples of how research has had big impacts: IFPRI’s evaluations of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) has benefited an estimated 7 million impoverished people in the country, and HarvestPlus’s work on biofortification has benefited over 20 million people.
Dr. Fan also discussed the need to make rural areas and agriculture more attractive to youth through modern technology adoption, agricultural intensification, and commercialization. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have great potential for agricultural and rural development—for example, the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange uses utilizes mobile phones to provide access to relevant market and price information for smallholders. More research is needed on increasing modern technology adoption, especially for rural youth.
The Berlin Charter puts forth several ambitious goals to support rural development: The call for action aims to lift at least 600 million people out of hunger and undernutrition by 2025, and to facilitate access to innovative education and youth training for all and cut youth underemployment by at least half by 2025.
To achieve these goals by 2025, international agricultural and policy research is critical. Compact2025, an initiative to accelerate progress toward ending hunger and undernutrition by 2025, is designed to support international commitments like the Berlin Charter with knowledge, innovation, and partnerships. By capitalizing on the momentum from the G20 conference and Berlin Charter, achieving a world with no hunger, especially for rural youth, may be even closer at hand.
This post was prepared by Chris Rue.