The first Youth Day ever recorded, was observed in 1999 after the UN General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution accepting the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth in Lisbon. Since then, each year, 12th August is celebrated as International Youth Day. This day is observed for raising awareness, recognizing the youth, and empowering them so they can positively contribute to society’s future. This day is also dedicated to preparing the youth to tackle various issues of society alongside sustainable development. 

International Youth Day: History

The year 2020, a year of unfortunate events, shook nations of the world when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. As the world still recovers from the cusp of Covid-19 and variations in the virus turn lethal, the UN declared that our planet earth has reached a point of no return. Global warming, melting of icebergs, climate change, the issues that were once ignored, have turned into one of mankind’s worst nightmares. During this time, the theme taken up by the UN for International Youth Day becomes more relevant than ever before.

International Youth Day: Significance

The UN has already predicted that there is going to be an increase in the world population by 2 Billion in the next 30 years. Due to this, various stakeholders have recognized that producing a larger volume of food in a sustainable way will not ensure human and planetary wellbeing. Challenges have to be addressed rather than ignored, the interlinkages contained in Agenda 2030 including health care, poverty reduction, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation.

International Youth Day: Theme

“Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”, is the theme for International Youth Day 2021. The UN has stated that the theme has been selected with the sole purpose of highlighting that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people. UN highlights that the selected theme will further help us in understanding the importance of the inclusive support mechanisms that ensure youth continue to amplify efforts collectively and individually to restore the planet and protect life while integrating biodiversity in the transformation of food systems.

First, let us understand what a food system is.  According to the University of Oxford, “the food system is a complex web of activities involving the production, processing, transport, and consumption. Issues concerning the food system include the governance and economics of food production, its sustainability, the degree to which we waste food, how food production affects the natural environment and the impact of food on individual and population health.” Food systems in the current scenario have resulted in environmental degradation along with the increase of zoonotic diseases in humans. Ultimately the food system is the root cause for the ill health of humans as well as our nature and finally our earth. The theme for International Youth Day 2021, is urging the entire population of the planet to adopt a more sustainable global food system.

The process will definitely not be easy. But with collective efforts, we still can make it. At an individual level, one can make a change by opting for a sustainable diet. The agricultural land needs to be properly distributed so that the right crops can grow in the right places and conditions. Sustainable farming practices along with the proper balance of fertilizers are very much needed to achieve the goal. Food waste should be avoided as much as possible. With millennials and GenZ making up the youth population, we can expect that the goal of reaching a global food system will be possible. UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated that the youngsters were on the “frontlines of the struggle to build a better future for all”. Right now, the entire world is in need of innovations that will shape up a better future. This will be only possible when the youths are united and decide to actually pay heed to the immediate change in food systems.

This International Youth Day, bringing a change within yourself, and pledge to build a better future for our planet

Also read: World Elephant Day 2021: Interesting facts about the giant



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