During the COCOREADO project, a lot of valuable work has been developed in several different areas regarding food production systems, including the empowerment of youngsters towards change in these, by preparing them and acknowledging their potential as change agents, through their capacities. These youngsters stand and will continue to stand as key transmitters of knowledge locally, nationally and internationally, raising awareness and increasingly gathering more individuals for pressing discussions on urgent problems and simultaneously finding solutions to solve them.
It’s due to the above-mentioned scenario, that the project workplan includes the organization of a policy workshop with the aim of listening on first-hand the youngsters on a specific theme: Policy Briefs. The project will develop and present to policy makers policy briefs regarding important changes in food production systems, and it makes all sense gathering on this workshop the feedback, ideas and suggestions from youngsters on a topic that they play a major role. This is because many youngsters of today will be hopefully the farmers of tomorrow and even more will be consumers of next generations.
Overall, the policy workshop held at 3rd August on Rural Youth Europe Rally Event attended by 31 youngsters from rural areas from various countries and different backgrounds went very well and was very fruitful. Not only from the point of view of disseminating the project and its results at this point, but also from the point of view of gathering feedback from young people in rural areas.
During the first one-hour session, a concise presentation of the project was presented, highlighting the network of ambassadors and how it is useful for the project and how is integrated within the project. The participants in the session asked questions about potential improvements to some topics and were keen to understand how the project had identified good practices, thus developing a small exchange of ideas about bringing the farmer and the consumer closer. Also, many of the attendees were interested in the educational materials and the ambassador toolkit developed on the project.
During the first hour of the session, we introduced the main topic of the session: policy. For around 20 minutes, it was presented the context of namely policy briefs for the project, their relevance, and guidelines for drafting a policy brief in a summarized format, to introduce the concept before the feedback session on the most pressing topics of a policy brief, regarding the topic of empowering young people to work towards change in food systems.
Included in these points were policy briefs from the COACH Project such “Free Schools Meals sourced from Small-Scale Farmers project and “Human rights on EU food system transformation”, which served as an example to visualize how a policy brief should be structured. Also, guidelines on how to address to policy makers and general audience were presented, and the #Ambassadors4EUprojects campaign developed by the ambassadors at the 3rd Ambassador training in Riga was presented as an example, explaining how the content of policy briefs can be disseminated differently, but with the same objective of mobilizing, raising awareness and promoting change about something we are aiming for.
In the second session of the morning, where we did a World Cafe dynamic to gather feedback on the topic of empowering young people to work towards change in food systems, we intend to gather information on day-to-day reality for youngsters from rural areas and put those needs on a policy brief terms, for suggestion it to policy makers.
We focused on 4 topics, 2 mandatories for drafting a policy brief: Main Challenges and Main Inputs/Solution; and 2 to help us prepare for the next session of the policy workshop with Policy Makers: Suggestions on how rural youngsters can make them messages stick & Suggestions of most Relevant Policy makers to address.
Each topic was discussed on a different table, with the groups having 7 people per table plus a moderator to encourage discussion for 15 minutes in 4 rounds in total. The participation of the participants was very positive, everyone was involved in the discussion, and everyone suggested good ideas, promoting very fruitful discussions. Interestingly, all the groups suggested that one of the biggest problems stands on the education and participation of young people in decision-making processes regarding food production system.
As far as education is concerned, the participants often pointed out that there are still a lot of old, closed mindsets that don’t keep up with current changes and that preach an old way of working, with all that is good and bad about it. They also pointed out that from the point of view of education at school level, topics such as agriculture and food production should be introduced earlier in education programs and, not forgetting the training of educators and teachers, which should also be relevant so that they can also teach content that is in line with current events.
Regarding the lack of participation of young people in decision-making, many have suggested a solution that includes a minimum percentage of young people in scenarios of laws reviews and approvals, at local, regional, national and EU levels.
Overall participants were very aligned in terms of ideas, which made it easier to get a general perception of the session and the most important topics to retain.
Tomás da Cruz Machado
COCOREADO Project Manager