On May 4-5, Giulia De Castro and Francesco Brusaporco, on behalf of the WFO International Secretariat, were at FAO headquarters in Rome to address the 2023 Annual Forum of the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA), of which WFO is a member. 

The 2023 Annual Forum focused on GACSA’s crosscutting themes of youth, women and finance, emphasizing the central role of farmers in all sessions 

In addition, the Annual Forum showcased the new activity proposals, giving the opportunity for all GACSA members to be more involved with the Alliance, as these proposals focus on accelerating GACSA’s multi-stakeholder actions, creating new tools and sharing knowledge to lead positive change. 

On Friday 5, during the session focused on capacity building, Ms Giulia De Castro provided the audience with an overview of the WFO Gymnasium program, the main project implemented by WFO to enhance young farmers’ capacities to become leaders in the agriculture sector. 

During her speech, Ms De Castro emphasized that the farmer-centric perspective of this year’s GACSA Annual Forum is crucial to the future of our planet: “In WFO, we firmly believe that no change in agriculture and food systems can be achieved without the active engagement of farmers, and especially young farmers, through initiatives that unlock their potential to be agents of change.” 

She went on to discuss the Gymnasium capacity-building program, highlighting that, since its launch in 2017, the project led by WFO in close partnership with Bayer (and, from this year, the Andreas Hermes Akademie) has been building cohorts with young farmers from all around the world, providing them with the necessary tools to bring their voices into international policy processes. The program aims to train young farmers to scale up their capacities from technical matters to advocacy.  

Ms De Castro also provided feedback on the GACSA e-learning course, stressing the importance of keeping in mind that different stakeholders have different needs and come from different realities across the food systems chains. 

Specifically, she remarked that it is crucial to pay attention to the potential barriers for young farmers, such as infrastructure and cost, to guarantee the active participation of farmers in both designing and implementing the initiative and to ensure inclusiveness.