KINSALE student Sophie Healy-Thow has been selected to represent Ireland at the prestigious global Youth Agricultural Summit in Brussels in October 2017.
Organised by Bayer Crop Science in partnership with Belgian youth organisations Groene King and Federation des Jeunes Agriculteurs, this year’s Summit is themed “Feeding a Hungry Planet” and aims to address the UN Sustainability Goals of ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture.
In total, 100 young people aged between 18 and 25 from 49 countries will share their diverse experiences and work together to generate innovative, sustainable and actionable solutions to global food security challenges. Across five days delegates will undertake group projects and participate in tours, as well as learning from guest speakers. Their mission is to come up with concrete new ideas which can drive agricultural progress across the globe and be put into practice at home.
“The agricultural industry can contribute strongly to achieving some of the key UN Sustainable Development Goals, but this also requires the active involvement of the next generation,” says Liam Condon, member of the Board of Management of Bayer, and head of the Crop Science Division. “The Youth Ag-Summit aims to give young leaders the opportunity to foster their ideas, share best practices and explore the role of modern agriculture in feeding a hungry planet.”
Sophie, who is a final year student at Kinsale Community College and hopes to study International Development and Food Policy at university, has an impressive track record already in raising
awareness of food security issues. In 2014 she was part of a team that won the Grand Prize at the Google Science Fair for investigating the positive impact a bacteria could have on the germination of crop plants.
It was at that competition where she discovered many young people were ignorant about food security and poverty, and resolved to advocate for greater awareness of its global impact. “I decided that I would try to help get this message out and help make our generation aware that we must work together to instigate change to create a sustainable future for our world.”
After being named in Time Magazine as one of its Top 25 influential teens, she has subsequently been appointed a Global Youth Leader for Mobilising Zero Hunger at the United Nations General Assembly 2015, and is now a ONE Campaign Youth Ambassador and a Young Trustee on the board of ActionAid UK.
“I give talks on food security and am in the process of building an app for children called Hunger Heroes, which is a series of games that will help children understand what food security is about.”
That experience made the Youth Ag-Summit a natural fit for Sophie, and she is excited about the prospect of sharing her ideas with others. “Young people have open minds and blue sky thoughts to solve problems, and believe that change can happen. I can’t think of better people to shape what we do in future around food security.”
Sophie will be part of a team of four delegates representing the United Kingdom and Ireland at the Youth Ag-Summit. The others are Luke Blomfield, an accountant from Surrey, and students Luca Steel from Gloucestershire and Emily Davis from Lincolnshire.