Making young people global citizens

“Global citizens for the future of food” is name of the webinar organised by the BCFN dedicated to educating young people on their future as “global citizens”, tackling shared challenges related to food, sustainability and combatting waste.

Education gives us a profound understanding that we are tied together as citizens of the global community and that our challenges are all interconnected”. These words spoken by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon clearly encapsulate the goal of the upcoming webinar organised by the BCFN to take place on 21 September 2017: to train and raise awareness among young people of the new concept of citizenship. Participants in the event will include Katharina Weltecke — Communication Manager for the World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator, Danielle Nierenberg President and Founder of Food Tank and Elena Cadel BCFN researcher. Coordinated by Francesca Allievi, BCFN researcher, the experts will be in continuous discussion with the participants on the theme of global citizenship — an issue which is closely connected to the UN Sustainable development goals (SDGs) — aiming to increase general understanding around food sustainability, which is always at the heart of the BCFN’s work.

Today’s citizens: global citizens

Few terms have a meaning that has changed as continuously as ‘citizenship’. Over the centuries, citizenship has changed from being a right reserved only for those who owned property, to a condition whereby a state recognises full civil and political rights, eventually evolving into a modern concept of global citizenship going way beyond national borders. Indeed, today’s society — with its international treaties and the development of supranational human rights networks — forces us to rethink the meaning of ‘global citizenship’ and to teach young people about this new way of looking at the world. UNESCO has focused great attention on educating young people to spread the idea of global citizenship, “a sense of belonging to a broader community and a common humanity, which emphasises political, economic, social and cultural interdependency and interconnectedness between the local, the national and the global

This is the definition set out in the 2014 UNESCO document Global citizenship education: Preparing learners for the challenges of the 21st century, which will form the basis of discussion in the webinar in September. And education on environmental sustainability, and policies for agricultural and industrial food production, with a view to achieving a fair distribution of resources between people on a global level, is undoubtedly one of the cornerstones of a new responsible global citizenship. In an increasingly globalised world, the actions of individuals and national institutions have an impact on the whole system, either through spreading good practices or by flagging up waste or bad habits.

Clear goals and a multidisciplinary approach

How can we educate people about global citizenship? A possible answer can be found in the UNESCO document entitled Global Citizenship Education: topics and learning objectives — a guide for helping to put theoretical concepts about education on global citizenship into practice. This education is based on three key areas: cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioural. It is a question of enabling younger generations to understand and critically assess global, national and local problems and challenges, and their interconnection, despite national differences.

However, simply understanding the issues is not enough, it is important to work on building a sense of belonging to the global community, focusing on shared values and a responsibility towards diversity. And to ensure that theoretical concepts are transformed into practical actions, it is crucial to work effectively at various levels for a more peaceful and sustainable world, through a multidisciplinary approach using different methods depending on the age of those learning and their specific context. With these challenges in mind, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals become particularly relevant, and especially those which have a direct impact on agricultural production and eating habits, which are destined to remain nothing more than pipe dreams unless they are tackled on a global level. Raising awareness about these goals and examples of good practices which are already in place around the world is just one of the aims of the webinar organised by the BCFN, which will address some of the recurring themes of modern development strategies such as food, the agro-food system and sustainable agriculture.