Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network Talanoa Dialogue

The Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) saw the Talanoa Dialogue as a rare opportunity to bring together young people in the 40 countries where they have affiliates to share information that can both help slow the rate of climate change and make agriculture more appealing and promising to young people worldwide. This goes hand-in-hand with the organisation’s effort to educate and train young people in environmental science and practices and to develop a curriculum to be used from primary school through university in Africa.

CSAYN and Cornell University organized an online Talanoa Dialogue across CSAYN’s entire global network. In October, they invited members to share stories that would shed light on ways to engage youth effectively in efforts to address climate change and improve the future of sustainable agriculture in specific communities.

“We believe that sharing the experiences that young people across our network have lived would motivate governments to take stronger action to empower youth action on climate change. The Talanoa Dialogue is a huge opportunity and an achievable process towards for keeping warming below 2 degrees”, said Ntiokam Divine, the Founder and Managing Director of CSAYN.

Here’s what they came up with.

Where are we?

The earth’s population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, and we will need to double food production at a time when climate change is putting extraordinary stresses on agriculture. Increasingly, rainfall is irregular and even scarce. Rising temperatures force farmers to shift to newer, often unfamiliar crops and allow for the spread and proliferation of pests and weeds. Young farmers often have a limited capacity to adapt because they lack both resources and experience and may be farming relatively small parcels. The effects cascade down though young families and communities, and families are forced to make trade-offs. Children may have to forgo school, or families may be separated as husbands seek supplemental work elsewhere.

Where do we want to go?

Our answer is Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), which presents a pragmatic sustainable alternative to both adapt to and mitigate climate change. Through the systems it promotes, it will allow us to increase productivity, be more resilient, produce fewer greenhouse gases—and even remove some—and improve food security. All this will serve to help any nation or community reach its development goals. The logic of CSA is undeniable, and it is adopted increasingly. But it requires considerable technical knowledge, investment and stakeholder participation. Several CSAYN efforts involve providing technical support and financial incentives through microfinance, weather index insurance and piloting remote sensing to enable CSA practices even in economically vulnerable rural areas.

How do we get there?

Youth can be a positive force toward realising the potential of CSA and making a real contribution in the fight against climate change and its effects. They are natural agents of change because they traditionally challenge social norms, societal values and economic models, and they set the tone for debate over the future. Inevitably, that gives them a critical role in shaping social and economic development. Youth should lead the way, at first by volunteering their services in community outreach, focus group discussions, community awareness and other initiatives. And by adopting CSA and showing how it can be successful for all farmers and for the larger society.

Active collaboration can help (1) reduce duplication, to ensure that we collectively meet greater targets and (2) increase awareness, transforming dialogue to concrete plans of action that can be executed at the local and national levels. A groundswell begins with even the smallest example of success.

To begin this groundswell, we must make climate change knowledge more accessible through alliances between educational institutions and health institutions. Youth can be further involved by promoting campaigns in schools and encouraging incentivized participation. In short order, we will need to organize highly focused training programs on climate change and create agricultural training centers promoting better resilience and adaptation (especially for water efficient practices to cope with dry summers). Agricultural extension services can be important drivers of climate knowledge and the application of sustainable best practices.

Youth must view climate change as an opportunity to innovate and create jobs through CSA and to boost agro-pastoral production in a sustainable way. When we do that, we will be protecting the environment for our children and their children. Creating a critical mass of young people with knowledge and skills in CSA will empower and strengthen the ability of farmers to meet the challenges they face today in earning good livelihoods and incentivize them to stay on the farm, which will further be a valuable contribution to their societies and countries.

Read the CSAYN Youth Curriculum here.
Read the full CSAYN submission here.