On July 3 and 4, the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) hosted a two-day digital technical session as part of the third edition of the WFO Gymnasium High-Level Capacity Building Program.

The session was held in preparation for the UN Food Systems Summit+2 Stocktaking Moment (UNFSS+2) and focused on the topic of “How Can Inclusive Technology and Innovation in Agriculture Boost the Efforts Towards the UNFSS Implementation”.

The WFO Gymnasium students, a group of 21 active young farmers from across the globe, had the unique chance to learn from agri-innovations experts and farmer leaders about what the private sector, research centres, farmers’ organisations, and UN agencies are doing to foster best agriculture practices towards more sustainable food systems. The students engaged in meaningful conversations with these speakers, sharing their own insights and visions on pressing food systems issues.

WFO Member Organisations’ representatives, Mr Nelson Agyemang from Coalition of Farmers Ghana (CoFaG), facilitator of the WFO Working Group on Innovation, and Ms Sharon Verah, Senior Technical Assistant at the Kenya National Farmers Federation (KENAFF), shared with students the approaches of their farmers’ organizations to leveraging innovations. They also demonstrated to the Gymnasium class the ways it is possible to get involved in collective actions to scale sustainable food systems transformation, as one implemented by the WFO Partner The Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU), presented by Mr Jeremiah Rogito from FOLU Kenya Secretariat.

Another great project about which young farmers learned was Food Action Alliance (FAA).
Mr Adam Gerstenmier, FAA Executive Director, gave an overview of how the Alliance is working to scale up food systems innovation. Mr Stefano Marras, Director of Global Partnerships at Bayer, WFO’s esteemed partner, also presented the company’s Zero Hunger Pledge.

Mr Anil Turkmayali, Senior Project Manager at the International Data Spaces Association (IDSA), Ms Alessandra Diana, Research Assistant at Farm Europe, as well as Ms Giulia Antonucci, Business Developer at Engineering Ingegneria Informatica (ENG), introduced to Gymnasium students the DIVINE Project, of which WFO is a core partner, and what it does for harnessing the power of data economy in agriculture.

Mr Peter Oksen, Green Technology and Research Manager from the UN agency The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) shared his experience working with green, climate-smart farming innovations and their patenting. Members of the World Food Forum, a youth-led global network facilitated by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), namely Mr Juan David Caro, Youth Policy Board representative, and Ms Pramisha Thapaliya, Real Food Systems and SDG 2 MGCY Focal Point, as well as Ms Maria Kolesina, Youth Food Lab Incubator Leader, explained to students how the network operates and how it supports young innovators in agriculture.

The Gymnasium students also had the opportunity to hear directly from Ms Sophie Cowppli-Bony, Engagement Coordinator of the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, about the importance of UNFSS+2, the first global follow-up to the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, for maintaining momentum on action for food systems transformation in support of SDGs acceleration.

The WFO Gymnasium Program, which was launched in 2017 in collaboration with Bayer, has already trained and empowered 46 active young farmers around the globe and provided them with more than 50 high-level advocacy opportunities at international conferences to effectively elevate the voices of global farmers into key policy-making arenas.

The previous technical session of the Gymnasium was held on the occasion of the UN Water Conference in Bonn and was dedicated to sustainable water management for biodiversity preservation. The third Gymnasium edition will last for 1 year, until December 2023, ending with an in-person session at COP 28 in Dubai.