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Youth in ARD: We’re getting there…

I feel privileged to be among the founding members of YPARD. Prior to 2005, we could hardly see young professionals participating in global discussions in ARD. The EFARD event in Zurich in 2005 paved the way for the birth of YPARD.The idea to put up the youth platform was not even formally discussed but was a result of informal chats among a few YPs during coffee breaks. A “core group” of YPs sought the advice and guidance of some senior professionals on how to move the platform forward.Slowly, the youth found their way of getting involved until YPARD’s official launch in 2006.Youth participation, sometimes through YPARD (and sometimes through the own initiative of institutions who believe that there should be a place among YPs in policy and science discussions at various levels), is slowly building up.In GCARD1,  a 3-day GCARD1 pre-event involving young people was organized. Now in GCARD 2, we have been given the opportunity to organize a pre-event. We were able to provide inputs to the official parallel session on capacity building where YP reps were present as a speaker (presenting the outputs of the youth pre-event) and a panel discussant.  YPs even served as social reporters! (Kudos to all your hard work and enthusiasm).These are all inconceivable back in 2000 when the first GFAR Conference was held!Youth involvement in policy debates may not be happening in the speed that we would have wanted it to be. But it is important to be fair and to recognize the efforts being made by all to facilitate and ensure the involvement of young people in the process.Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary of GFAR Secretariat, applauded this commitment to youth:“Hearing young peoples’ voice at this conference is critical. They are tomorrow’s leaders – the farmers, scientists, environmental stewards and others who will be required to build a food secure and sustainable future for all. Oliver Oliveros, Philippines/France