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Delegate Hamish Clarke shares his experiences from attending the GYAS with Bayer

It is well recognised that the world’s youth are the future leaders of tomorrow, but as Todd Sampson the keynote speaker of Youth-Ag Summit, CEO of Leo Burnett, host of ‘Redesign My Brain’, and Co-Founder of Earth Hour explained. It is the world’s youth that have the creativity needed to unlock the solutions of how to feed a hungry plant. 

Creativity that can be learned and unlocked with practice and guidance, but is often lost by mature leaders through knowledge built through experience. Knowledge that often leads to experienced leaders using assumption-based thinking for problem solving, rather than creative-thinking.   

Todd outlined that creativity is the answer to any problem, but creative leadership lies within the ability for a leader to fight of their fears, and hold onto a creative idea for just five minutes longer than others. However, to utilise and unlock the creativity of the world we must support, guide, and enable the rural youth of today. Youth need help; they need the skills, knowledge and influence of the leaders of today, to enable, guide and empower their creativity, to ensure that the right messages are heard. 

From 24-27 August in Canberra, Bayer and the Future Farmers Network took up this challenge, and created an event that supported, guided, mentored and enabled 100 young agricultural leaders, aged 18-25, from 33 nations. This event was called the 2015 Youth-Ag Summit.
The leaders of Bayer and the Future Farmers Network allowed the delegates to discuss the roles that science and modern agriculture play in feeding a hungry planet. These leaders then empowered and enabled the creativity of the delegates by gaining them an audience with the United Nations, where two delegates will present the findings of the wider Youth-Ag Summit delegation.  

Included within the global delegation were seven young kiwis selected, through an essay competition on how to solve global food insecurity. James Robertson, Zach Mounsey, Rosario Monzales, Sarah Crofoot, Shaun Snoxell, Sarah Tait and Hamish Clarke were given the privilege of representing New Zealand at the global Youth-Ag Summit.

The Youth-Ag Summit was aimed at addressing what is arguably one of the biggest issues facing mankind; how to feed the world in 2050 and beyond? As it’s estimated that by 2050 there will be over 9 billion people in the world and to feed them we need to produce 70% more food globally.

Not only must we increase our global food supply to the masses, but we must do it from fewer resources. Urban sprawl for example, is taking away some of the most fertile soils in the world, while fossil fuels are a non-renewable and environmentally harmful resource that agriculture and food are currently heavily reliant on.
Therefore, the current global status-quo will not be good enough going forward. We already have around 800 million people suffering from malnutrition worldwide. Therefore, we as a global community must continue to create and change by innovating, adopting and adapting. However, we cannot solve the looming global food crisis by simply producing more. It’s an incredibly complex problem, requiring multifaceted solutions. 

Solutions to the looming global food famine, must address not only the lack of global food availability and affordability, but also the cultural, economic, environmental, and social challenges that limit global food availability and affordability in both developed and developing nations worldwide. It is youth that can unlock many of the creative answers needed. 

How do we learn and grow from this? Todd outlined that in the future world of big data analysis the only competitive advantage left will be innovation and creativity. Therefore, we must learn how to better support and enable youth, we must ask ourselves: 

  1. How do we better empower the voices and creativity of our youth? 
  2. How do we better utilise the creativity of youth to solve our challenges? 
  3. Why do we not have a ‘NZ Youth Primary Industries Summit’?

Hamish Clarke, - New Zealand Youth-Ag Summit Delegate.
hamish.clarke@lincolnuni.ac.nz