This year, the Wageningen Youth Institute travelled virtually to The United States to attend the online edition of the 2020 World Food Prize. The World Food Prize, also known as the Nobel prize for food and agriculture, was rewarded this year to Dr. Rattan Lal, the soil health trailblazer.
Dr. Lal developed and mainstreamed a soil-centric approach to increase food production and mitigate climate change. By promoting innovative soil-saving techniques, Lal benefited the livelihoods of more than 500 million smallholder farmers, improved the food and nutritional security of more than two billion people and saved hundreds of millions of hectares of natural tropical ecosystems.
Dozens of scientists, policymakers and other world leaders came together with Rattan Lal to discuss four major vulnerabilities or “cracks” in food systems: Climate Change, Finance & Investment, Nutrition, and Equity & Access. The Borlaug Dialogue, which was in progress from October 12 to 16, therefore had the title: “Building Resilience Today for Improved Global Food Systems Tomorrow”.
Chantel Hoeve, the 2020 Wageningen Youth Institute winner, was part of the interesting discussions of these world leaders with her participation in the Global Youth Institute. The two-week online GYI was organized by the World Food Prize Foundation and coincided with the Borlaug Dialogue in its first week. During the roundtable discussion, Chantel had the opportunity to present her own soil research to her peers and experts, with Dr. Lal in the back of her mind as a great example.
Dennis Vlegels and Marloes Ruiter were part of the Dutch delegation in 2018 and were active this year as Group Leader as a source of information and support for the participating students.
"The roundtable sessions always excite me, even in the online environment of this year’s GYI. Not only did I have the opportunity to educate the youth and experts with my knowledge from The Netherlands, but I also got the chance to get educated myself on food security issues by these young and ambitious students. I was particularly impressed by the presentation of a Chinese student. As a non-native speaker I experienced how terrifying it is to pitch your ideas to an American crowd, but she definitely deserved her spot at the table. "
"The highlight of my Global Youth Institute 2020 were the round table discussions. In these Round Tables, students are allowed to present their innovative solutions for food security issues. I had students from the US and China in my group, my fellow Group Leader was in London and the experts were from Kenya and the US. It was enormously inspiring to talk in this international setting about food security and its solutions. As one of the experts at my Round Table, Kiruba Krishnaswamy, put it, “We depend on each other. Only by working together, we can arrive at solutions for this complex issue '. The Round Tables felt like this international collaboration to me and it is valuable to be part of it."