For the third time IFPRI has asked international youth to share with us their reflections on ways to overcome global hunger and poverty. The messages as we saw them in 2001 and in 2004 are renewed and repeated here—overwhelmingly so, since close to 600 youngsters from as many as 39 countries offered their thoughts and solutions.This is an encouraging outcome in many ways, for as one of the contenders wrote us, we might have thought that after the indolent “Generation X” there was not much to expect. But her present “Generation Y,” she felt, would be one of responsibility and involvement. The essays certainly prove her point. And it also holds great promise that so many have taken time to dig into the facts and problems of the current global imbalance in human welfare. Because, as the winner of the competition, Ashley Eberhart, underlines so convincingly, awareness is the point of departure for activism,leading to results. Many knew a lot before they started to write, if not in the form of dry figures, then as general background knowledge and an uneasy feeling about the lack of fairness and justice regarding basic human needs. Interestingly, however, in many cases these young problem solvers have emphasized the human lives that are at stake. They have focused on the individual, the immense pain facing the desperate Indian mother, the Ugandan orphan, the homeless itinerant. A keyword for these youngsters sharing their worries with us is, indeed, “share.” There is,definitely, more empathy, more altruism, and more global commitment among these young people than you would find in your average national or international institution. This, of course also means that harsh “realism” is not always reflected in their proposals for solutions. But they trust that realism can be influenced and changed. Abolish poverty and hunger? But of course. At one point in time, as one of them points out, it seemed impossible for human beings to fly to the moon. But we did it. And these 600 young writers encourage us to make also this giant leap for mankind, and end human misery born of poverty and hunger once and for all.
Highlights from an international youth writing contest
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)