Young people face huge challenges, among them growing food scarcity, malnutrition, poverty and climate shocks, making it essential to harness their potential to achieve zero hunger, the United Nations said on Sunday.
"We live in a challenging time," UN Food and Agriculture Organisation Director-General Qu Dong told a panel on food security in Africa at the World Youth Forum, according to an FAO statement.
"But we must not feel discouraged by these challenges. There are more solutions than challenges," said the FAO chief.
Qu highlighted the challenges young people in Africa and Middle East are grapping with - rising hunger and malnutrition, uptake of increasingly unhealthy diets, lack of stable jobs and income opportunities, climate change, water scarcity, and in some countries, conflict.
"We need the energy and potential of young people to achieve rural transformation, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2," added Qu, referring to the goal of ending hunger in all its forms by 2030.
Failing to achieve SDG2 places reaching all SDGs at risk, stressed Qu.
Making the most of innovation, digital technology, investments, encouraging youth's greater appreciation of sustainable and healthy food systems and better policies are some of the solutions, Qu said.
To this end, Qu also presented FAO's recently announced Hand-in-Hand initiative, which seeks to match donors and recipients in a more targeted way to assist the most vulnerable people and help to achieve the SDGs.
At the forum, FAO and Egypt agreed to deepen their collaboration in support of the country's rural youth and women.
FAO Director-General and Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry signed the accord on the margins of the World Youth Forum on Sunday.
Under the accord, FAO and the Ministry will seek to roll out programmes promoting employment on and off farm and in different value chains, and providing training and capacity development for youth and women, said the statement.