Innovative ideas to feed the world: giving a platform to young people to share ideas on ending hunger and poverty

What is the best conference you ever attended in your life? Those who have had the luxury of attending a TedTalk may think of their TedTalk experience. Others may think of the only time they attended an out of the box event.

Well, whatever your best conference moment may have been, I wish you had attended the “young professional conference: Innovative ideas to feed the world” conference.

This fantastic conference was organized by four interns working at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The event created a platform for young professionals to share some extraordinary and highly innovative ideas to feed the world and more importantly to learn from each other and share ideas on how to end hunger.

I had the honour and privilege of moderating the conference and I must say, so far this event  has been one of the highlights of the year. It was so refreshing to see the enthusiasm and the out-of-the-box ideas of our young colleagues. It was so wonderful to see that their complex and innovative ideas were expressed in 500 words instead of 500 pages. It was so great to see the look of awe on the faces of the more seasoned participants and to hear comments such as “wow, I do not remember when was the last time I got excited about something”.

So what was this great event all about? Here is how Rebeca Souza described it in her blogpost

On the 21st of May, more than 150 young professionals presented their groundbreaking ideas to help end global hunger and malnutrition on the “Innovative Ideas to Feed the World – Young Professionals Conference” held at FAO Headquarters.

The event was initiated by four interns of FAO and had the main goal to establish a platform where young professionals could learn from each other and help new talent and ideas to end hunger to emerge.

“This event brings in three important ideas: young professionals – innovative ideas – feeding the world. These are three ideas that are not always connected. The biggest contribution you can give is to bring them together”, said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

“Five top project proposals were selected from among 25 entries in a competition involving young professionals from the three Rome-based agencies. They included interns, volunteers, Associate Professional Officers, consultants and staff working in different technical areas in the three UN Rome-based agencies, besides students and young professionals from organizations related to Food Security and Development issues”, said Cyntia Lima, one of the group of young professionals who had spearheaded and organized the Conference.

The projects were selected by a committee of senior professionals composed of representatives of FAO, IFAD, WFP, the Young Professionals Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD) and academia. The choice of the five most innovative ideas was based on the criteria of innovation; impact and potential for adoption of the 25 project proposals submitted.

The five winning projects and their presenters were:

CourseWork on Feeding: PC and mobile application to connect NGOs with Master and PhD students which would provide  technical assistance for them, at the same time that they gain practical experience and write their thesis - Marco Bianchini, volunteer at FAO Headquarters;

Care Farming: Using this approach to reduce the work burden of rural women and thus contribute for their potential economic empowerment which is key for food security and hunger eradication - Hajnalka Petrics, Gender and Development officer at FAO Headquarters;

Price Monitoring using Interactive - Voice Response (PMIR Technology): monitoring food prices by linking  grocers with price information that was then fed into a database that could be easily accessed by all - Syed Fawad Raza (Programme Officer at WFP in Pakistan);

Save Food, Save Future: a Multimedia tool for sustainable diets and food consumption - Daniela Demel (Executive Board Officer, WFP), Camelia Bucatariu (Consultant, FAO) and Sandra Ferrari (Consultant, FAO);

Save.Use.Produce (SaveUP): focus on increasing the efficiency of urban and peri-urban food systems for mass nutrient and dietary energy flows. This will be done by  rearing insects for feed is already practiced in some countries7 and is a concrete solution towards supplementing animal feed and indirectly providing safe and sustainable8 high quality protein for human consumption. - Ms. Afton Halloran and Ms. Camelia Bucatariu - FAO consultants

Amir Abdullah, WFP Deputy-Executive Director, was in charge of the closing remarks of the event. He noted that two of the five projects focused on the development of new Apps. and technologies while another two of the five proposals were concerned with the common theme of food waste. Young people thus had a very topical, innovative and practical approach to ending hunger.

The five speakers selected received congratulatory letters from the FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva and had their presentations uploaded at the FAO Slide Share.

The Conference was attended by young professionals from the three Rome-based agencies, Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (USA), University of Erlangen Nuremberg (Germany) and University of Rome 3 (Italy).

Opening remarks were made by FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva. Statements were also made by Conference moderator Roxanna Samii, IFAD manager for the Web, Knowledge and internal communications; Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and Monica Altmaier, Director of Human Resources, FAO. The Closing Remarks were done by the WFP Deputy Director, Amir Abdulla.

Have a look at the Compilation of the 24 Ideas submitted for the "Innovative Ideas..." Contest. Congratulations to all the participants for their excellent work and innovative ideas!

Check the picture of the event on Innovative to Feed the World's Facebook album.