International Youth Network for Food Security & Sovereignty
In 2011, CAN established the Youth Network for Food Security & Sovereignty (FSS) to promote a model of community youth leaders as the primary conduits for food system transformation. Since 2011, CAN has expanded its FSS initiatives, and consequently the Youth Network, into two more coffee growing regions in Nicaragua and México; a Maya region in México; and urban youth from Watsonville, CA.
Networking and training of youth leaders across these initiatives deepens knowledge and capacity, engenders beneficial exchange and strengthens innovation within each of the associated communities. The Youth Network has had four annual exchanges and two regional exchanges. In these exchanges, youth leaders have expressed a strong desire to expand the network to more youth, receive more training in agroecology, and build stronger national and international youth platforms for knowledge exchange and advocacy of strategies to achieve food sovereignty.
Intercambio came about as a result of a study conducted by one of CAN’s researchers in 2011. After discussion among project managers, it was determined that youth leaders from the projects needed to be included in the annual project meetings if the network was to grow and be sustainable. The youth also would benefit from meeting one another and learning from the exchange of experience, skills, and friendship.
Each year a planning committee comprised of CAN and the partner host organization carefully plans the Intercambio. They use evaluations from the previous year and contact different members of CAN’s Youth Network to gather input on themes and topics to be covered that year.
Thematic workshops and knowledge exchanges are developed to improve skills needed to strengthen food security and sovereignty in their communities including food processing, preservation, and grey water reuse systems. The aim of this work is to strengthen the structure and functioning of the Youth Network; improve youth leadership capacity to support food security and sovereignty in their communities; strengthen ties across CAN and Youth Network partner organizations; and, exchange skills and knowledge between network members.
- Changes in the lives of youth leaders (demonstrated leadership capacity, education levels, changes in aspirations, relationships within and external to their communities)
- Changes in their communities and their food systems (adoption and application of innovations by community members)
- Youth leaders’ participation in regional and global efforts to advocate for their communities and the biocultural landscapes they call home.
- Strengthen structure and functioning of the Youth Network.
- Improve youth leadership capacity to support food security and sovereignty in their communities.
- Strengthen ties across CAN and Youth Network partner organizations.
- Exchange skills and knowledge between network members.
- Develop strategies for managing funds to support the development of the network.
The result were detailed plans that included production calendars, market studies and marketing plans, logistical plans for transport and delivery of products to possible markets, marketing tools like logos, and budgets. In the case of Tabasco, the women’s group and UIMQRoo students working with them identified chile habanero and other garden produce as their main products, and the youth leaders from Veracruz built their business plans around patio eggs and garden produce.