Essay | 2023 World Food Forum: Passionate young voices come together

Angela Tarana at the World Food Forum in Rome.
Angela Tarana at the World Food Forum in Rome.

Lois Maison

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As my plane soared away from Washington, D.C., toward the ancient city of Rome, a sense of anticipation bubbled within me. I was about to attend the 2023 World Food Forum (WFF), an assembly that promised to deepen my understanding of the complex interplay between agriculture, climate change, and economics. Beyond the professional enrichment, the prospect of exploring a city etched with awe-inspiring history added an extra layer of excitement to my journey.

The WFF was more than just a forum; it was a confluence of knowledge and passion, where young professionals like me, deeply invested in international development and agriculture, came together. The air was thick with a mix of humility and enlightenment as we delved into discussions and workshops.

World Food Forum, 2023. (Lois Maison)

Each session I attended, and every interaction I had, was a vivid tapestry of insights. Voices ranged from smallholder farmers to academics, from private sector mavens to policymakers, each contributing to a rich mosaic of perspectives. The diversity underscored the multifaceted nature of our quest for food security – a challenge demanding nothing less than collaborative ingenuity.

A particularly poignant moment was the address by the President of Iraq – whose words painted a stark reality of a world facing the dual crises of food security and water scarcity. His speech was a clarion call, highlighting the dire projections for 2030 and the paradox of our planet’s water distribution, including that over 1.5 billion people are expected to face water scarcity by 2030. The urgency in his voice was a reminder of the critical need to rethink our relationship with water and agriculture.

It was inspiring to witness the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) exemplify its commitment to sustainability. Demonstrating its corporate responsibility, the FAO introduced a comprehensive food waste monitoring system in its canteens and food trucks. This system involved participants sorting their leftovers according to food types. Observing this system in action on the first day motivated me to be more conscientious about requesting the right amount of food, thereby minimizing waste. Remarkably, this initiative led to a significant reduction of 964 kg (2125 pounds) in leftover food waste.

Innovation was the pulsating heart of the forum. Witnessing technological advancements in agriculture, juxtaposed with time-honored practices that have been the backbone of communities for ages, was inspiring. Stories like that of a young woman farmer intertwining her ancestors’ wisdom with modern science to cultivate resilient practices filled me with hope.

Attendees gather at the conference in Rome. (Lois Maison)

Throughout the forum, I forged bonds with fellow advocates for agricultural development and a sustainable future. Conversations sparked in Rome wove themselves into my professional tapestry, reinforcing my resolve to contribute significantly to this global mission. The experienced experts painted a vivid picture of our planet’s limitations, grounding our discussions in a reality that was both personal and urgent. It dawned on me, and perhaps on all of us there, that our work carried an immense responsibility towards future generations.

As I departed from the WFF, I took with me not just the wealth of knowledge shared, but a renewed determination to be at the forefront of change. The forum was a catalyst, igniting my commitment to a cause much grander than myself – nourishing the world sustainably and equitably. It was more than just an event; it was the kindling of a lifelong commitment to a cause greater than any individual — a commitment to the sustenance of our world.

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