REAL FOOD SYSTEMS YOUTH AMBASSADOR ACTIONS
Find out what some of our Youth Ambassadors have been doing to help spread the Real Food Systems message in the community and across the world!
Jeffrey Adusei Opoku
Youth Ambassador Jeffrey Adusei Opoku started activism with a plastic waste awareness and clean-up campaign at this school. He has recently launched an educational campaign in his home country of Ghana called “Play Your Part”. Through this project, he talks with youth about the U.N Sustainable Development Goals, the value of nature, and the RFS message. He is passionate about educating young people about the negative impacts of our broken food systems, and empowering them to make it better. Jeffrey is also one of the Co-Founders of Sustainability Week Accra.
Youth Ambassador and RFS Spokesperson Marie-Claire Graf is a Swiss youth advocate and change-maker for just sustainable development and ambitious climate action, through her diverse engagement in projects around sustainability on local, national, and international levels. She initiated and is leading numerous associations in the fields of climate action, sustainable development (co-founder of Swiss Sustainability Week and Sustainability Week International), youth and women empowerment, and education. At Swiss Youth for Climate, Marie-Claire is vice president and responsible for international external relations. She is also a Global Shaper for the World Economic Forum, where she is involved in projects around climate change literacy, and she is a member of Foraus, the think-tank on Swiss foreign policies. Marie-Claire has been involved in Fridays for Future from the beginning, and led the All in for Climate Action campaign to hold governments accountable. Since the UNFCCC COP23, Marie-Claire is in the Bottom-lining Team of YOUNGO, the official youth constituency to the UNFCCC. She was also a member of the federal Swiss delegation to the UNFCCC COP25 in Madrid as the youngest delegate. Marie-Claire has won several awards, including Female Citizen of Zurich, UN Youth Climate Champion for Switzerland, and Who’s Who Basel 2020. As a spokesperson of RFS, she has recently been highlighting food systems as significant contributors and essential solutions to the climate crisis.
Youth Ambassador Pramisha Thapaliya, from Nepal, is an advocate for climate justice and sustainable food systems. With RFS, she is involved in the Social Media Team and School Outreach Team. In Nepal, she works as an Agriculture Instructor of a government-based school and has started a School Outreach project at her own school. Through writing articles and talking in various forums, Pramisha is advocating for the importance of sustainable and plant-based diets. Pramisha started climate activism in 2015 with grassroots organisations. She has degrees in agriculture and climate science, and experience organising and participating in various climate change related programmes and projects. She has furthered her advocacy work as one of the coordinators of the U.N. YOUNGO Agriculture Working Group, thus promoting youth climate activism by bridging the gap between grassroots level youth and international entities. Recently she launched a podcast series in the Nepali language, trying to increase the awareness of the climate crisis among Nepali speaking communities.
Youth Ambassador and Real Food Champion Hamangaí Pataxó, from Brazil, defends the rights of indigenous peoples and nature conservation with Brazilian-based NGO Engajamundo. Hamangaí is working with RFS to spread awareness of food system related crises in Brazil such as deforestation, agricultural problems and food inequities, and to amplify the values of indigenous customs, crafts and traditions in local agriculture and food. Hamangaí also works on an international level. She attended COP24 in Poland in 2018 as a part of the Engajamundo delegation. In 2019, she participated in the Villagio per la Terra in Rome, where she spoke about the Amazon and the importance of protecting the people who live there. She also took part in the III Acampamento dos Povos Indígenas da Bahia (3rd camp of indigenous peoples of Bahia) during which she developed an agenda to defend indigenous territories, to protect the rights of indigenous women – including their access to university – and to combat the climate crisis. More recently, she attended the 2019 Youth Activist Summit in Geneva, where she was presented with an award in recognition of her activism for the rights of indigenous peoples. Youth Ambassadors Rafael Duarte, Karina Pina Alves, and Yuri Arabadgi de Andrade have been supporting Real Food Systems with our communications with Hamangaí in Brazil. They have also helped to translate our materials into Portuguese.
Barthelemy Mwanza Ngane
Youth Ambassador and Real Food Champion Barthelemy Mwanza Ngane is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo currently residing in Tongogara refugee camp, Zimbabwe. He runs a local food gardening project with a friend Andre Mulamba Kasongo, and has led education outreach projects, focus group discussions, film screenings, clean-up and awareness campaigns, and conferences with his fellow refugees. Barthelemy has also been involved with the international community, representing the youth voice at various UNHCR events as a Global Youth Advisory Council (GYAC) member. In addition to GYAC, Barthelemy volunteers with UNHCR as a youth mobiliser, youth mental health promoter, and is on the steering committee for the Adolescent Girls and Young Women Empowerment Programme in the camp. He is also a community-based Child Care Worker for Terre des Hommes. Barthelemy attended the 2019 UN Youth Climate Summit in New York, where he helped to get food systems on the climate agenda. His dream is to complete his studies in Journalism in order to advocate for youth empowerment and promote refugee talent.
Amy & Ella Meek
Youth Ambassadors and Real Food Champions Amy and Ella Meek are the founders of the campaign and the association ‘Kids Against Plastic’, a social action project for young people that addresses one of the world’s biggest environmental problems – plastic pollution. The two sisters work with young people, schools and companies. Ella has her own show on Sky Kids. Amy and Ella founded ‘Kids Against Plastic’ in early 2016, when they first discovered the devastating impact of plastic on the environment. At the time, they were educated at home by their parents and travelling across Europe to study the UN Sustainable Development Goals. One of the 17 objectives was of particular interest to Amy and Ella: protecting underwater life. It is through this that they discovered the damage caused by plastic pollution. It is the magnitude of the problem, and the lack of options for people who would like to have more sustainable, i.e. non-polluting habits, that shocked them the most. This motivated them to take action. Almost 4 years later, what began as a small school project became an official charity: ‘Kids Against Plastic’. Responding to their call, young people collected nearly 70,000 pieces of single-use plastic. Amy and Ella are currently focusing on their ‘Plastic Clever’ programme, a positive reward programme that encourages a more judicious use of single-use plastics. They are currently integrating the Real Food Systems message into the resources they use in 900 schools across the UK as part of their Plastic Clever’ programme.
Youth Ambassador Monalisa was born and raised in a small village in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication Science and she has been working with a German-based NGO called Fairventures Worldwide for more than two years. The NGO focuses on landscape restoration and environmental education. Monalisa also works on her own initiative with her local community to promote sustainable farming practices and bamboo as an alternative income for the villagers. She hopes that this initiative will help restore the unused degraded land that has been left behind by illegal gold mining in her community. Monalisa is also the founder of limarupa.id, a group of young people in her hometown who help smallholder entrepreneurs to create and promote sustainable products. They are currently supporting entrepreneurs producing single-use organic straws as an alternative to plastic. The straw is made from a wild grass that grows naturally in peat areas. The project aims to create a source of income for the people who live in peat areas so that they begin to value the peatland and protect it from forest burning that happens in the area annually. You can find out more about the project below.
Youth Ambassador Joshua Amponsem is an environmental and climate activist and the founder of Green Africa Youth Organisation (GAYO). His work aims to enhance the meaningful inclusion of youth and children in local and global development processes. He is the lead author of the first-ever background paper on youth and climate change adaptation, developed for the Global Commission on Adaptation to provide a pathway for youth engagement in global adaptation efforts. Enrolled in the MSc Environmental Risks and Human Security at the United Nations University in Bonn - Germany, Joshua focuses on Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Resilience Building for young people. He is leading an initiative dubbed Sustainable Communities Project – which provides community-based enterprise models, green jobs and applies circular economy principles to agriculture and food systems, as well as the waste management sector. Joshua is currently supporting the Global Center on Adaptation to establish a global youth adaptation network which aims to provide a platform to provide youth with the knowledge and opportunities needed to accelerate global adaptation to current and future climate risks. Prior to this, he served as Business Development Manager and lead environmental consultant for Challenges Group Ghana, where he supported the delivery of business growth services to an enterprise portfolio of over 100 enterprises within the green and agricultural sector in Ghana. For 2 years, he was a UNEP Tunza Ambassador for Africa and mentored over 50 young people to implement green initiatives globally. In 2016, he was named World Climate Ambassador by Climate Interactive. Joshua supports governments and private-sector entities to better integrate the voices of youth into their climate and sustainability commitments. He takes inspiration from the diversity of life forms on land and under water, and continuously work towards inclusiveness and oneness of life. He is part of diverse local and international networks working toward a cleaner and better environment for the future.
Youth Ambassador Isaac Ndyamuhaki is the founder of EbaPreneur solutions Uganda, a social and climate action enterprise providing nature based solutions for smallholder farmers that address food security and low incomes. Isaac’s initiative has successfully piloted mushroom and honey production with smallholder farmers in northern Uganda. He is planning to roll out ‘Hunger free kids’; a project that aims to provide training, demonstrations on ecosystem-friendly food production techniques, and education on the importance of eating a balanced diet. ‘Hunger free kids’ will be piloted in an identified primary school either in Abim or Isingiro. Isaac also currently works with the Tree Adoption Uganda-Manafwa watershed restoration project (MWARES) as programme intern. He handles environmental education, social media and online communications. He is also the lead forester in quality assurance in the MWARES tree planting programmes.
Youth Ambassador Jevanic Henry is a young environmentalist, youth leader and community activist from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. His passion and drive towards pushing the sustainable development agenda with a great emphasis on climate action has led to his involvement in various campaigns and forums across the globe, raising awareness and advocating specifically on behalf of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean. As a founding member of the Youth Climate Change Activists (YCCA) and a special envoy for Climate Change with the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) he continues to work towards increasing youth capacity and participation in Climate Action initiatives in the region and beyond. He believes effective climate action and by extension all efforts towards sustainable development must be led by passionate young people who have a fervent desire in ensuring that this planet is preserved not only for us but for future generations and has dedicated his efforts to this mission.
Youth Ambassador Reinhold Mangundu is pursuing his MPhil in Sustainable Development and has fallen in love with the application of complexity and systems thinking. Being passionate about reimagining education, he has co-founded a project called ‘Games for the SDGs’. Through this project, he facilitates simulation games for many young Namibians, including school groups and young professionals. The games provide a platform to freely and actively discuss the SDGs and Reinhold uses them as complexity and systems thinking based pedagogies for promoting transformative sustainability learning. Reinhold is currently running a community project promoting holistic development. The project is looking at new ways of measuring progress in a community of about 150 people from very insecure circumstances. His focus is particularly on the establishment of home-based gardens for food security. He’s also running environmental education campaigns through his role as board member of the Namibian Environment and Wildlife Society and a member of the Namibian Youth Coalition on Climate Change. He is a poet and has published environmental poems aimed at creating awareness. Reinhold has also designed a sustainability curriculum for youth centres that he is currently implementing through the Fridays for the Future Movement in Namibia.
Youth Ambassador Jackson Buzingo is a Tanzanian youth living in Kigoma, western Tanzania. He is Country Representative for the NGO ONE MORE SALARY and a passionate volunteer in agricultural initiatives that have a positive impact on small farmers' productivity and income so that they can fight poverty. Jackson led ONE MORE SALARY to implement the Farm Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) project in Kasulu district (Kigoma region) in two villages that were devastated by deforestation due to degenerative practices, such primitive agricultural activities. As a result of the initiative, Jackson provided training to 157 small scale farmers on FMNR methods based on environmentally friendly cultivation. 480 small scale farmers have benefitted from the project, and Jackson hopes that the skills these farmers have learnt will assist them in growing food crops for domestic use. Jackson would like to create a hub for RFS mission in Tanzania to empower small holder farmers out of poverty through promoting the use of growing food crops that are essential for health and wellbeing.
Youth Ambassador Simon Murungi is an organic farmer and the founder and CEO of SOFAFRICA (spreading organic farming in Africa). He is passionate about agro-ecological, regenerative agriculture and rural development as a viable and sustainable approach to turn smallholder agriculture from subsistence farming to a more commercial enterprise. Simon’s initiative SOFAFRICA provides training to farmers, youth and schools on climate change mitigation strategies, indigenous seed saving, green energy, water and soil conservation, organic agriculture, natural resources conservation, rural development, organic coffee and tea production, nutrition, animal welfare, human rights, and related issues based on public policy, the best available research science, and effective management. Simon has a vision to provide economic opportunity through innovation; to promote agriculture production that better nourishes Kenyans, while also helping to feed others worldwide; and to preserve Kenya’s natural resources through conservation, reforestation, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands in line with the sustainable development goals. He is aiming to collaborate with Real Food Systems on several of SOFAFRICA’s activities in order to spread organic farming in Africa and across the world.
Vanessa Garcia Polanco
Vanessa Garcia Polanco is an experienced researcher and policy advocate. Her past activities have focused on racial equity in food systems, food systems governance, sustainable agriculture, and resilient food systems and communities. As a scholar-activist, she is passionate about advocating for minorities, immigrants, and refugees in food, agriculture, the environment, and natural resources. As a Dominican immigrant, she brings her experience and identity to her research and advocacy activities. Vanessa is an alumna of Michigan State University Department of Community Sustainability and the University of Rhode Island Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. Her previous research focused on racial equity in food systems, food systems governance, sustainable agriculture and resilient food systems and communities. She led independent research projects like Finding Foods From Home, Dominican Food Studies, and the Dominican Food Sovereignty Research Collective. Vanessa advocates for inclusion in the sciences and in science policy by being a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Science Policy Network and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. She advocates for sustainable agriculture and fair opportunities in agriculture for small and diverse growers as the National Young Farmers Coalition Federal Policy Associate. She also serves as a board member in the The Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society and the Michigan Food and Farming Systems. Vanessa advocates for New Americans in all aspects of civic society as an alumna of New American Leaders. Her toolkit and workshop, #Foodisneverjustfood provided examples for youth, minorities, immigrants, and refugees in food, agriculture, the environment, and natural resources to share their stories and change narratives about their experiences. Vanessa is a 2019 Cynthia Hayes Scholar, a 2019 James Beard Foundation National Scholar, and 2020 Michigan Junior Food System Leader of the Year.
Stephen Bright Sakwa
Youth Ambassador Stephen Bright Sakwa works with Tree Adoption Uganda, a youth-centric NGO with a vision of creating communities where people and nature flourish. Tree Adoption Uganda represents real action in landscapes restoration and Sakwa works directly with communities in tree planting, agro-forestry, farmer training and youth empowerment in green enterprises. Sakwa is also a volunteer with Youth in Landscapes under the Global Landscapes Forum, Youth Leading Environmental Change Uganda and he is a member of the National Youth Advocacy Platform.
Youth Ambassador Jennifer McMenigall is a nutritionist from Scotland. While studying her bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition she became interested in food security and food sustainability. She hopes to go on to study Food Policy in London to continue to understand more about our food systems and how to provide healthy and sustainable food to the world’s population. Jennifer started working with Real Food Systems at the start of 2020. She carries out research into different food, farming, and climate change areas. She also helps to compose different recipes for social media posts. Recently changing to a vegan diet has meant that Jennifer gets to experiment with new vegan recipes and can try to encourage others to eat more plant-based as well. She has also been hosting several interviews with other Youth Ambassadors and climate activists on the Real Food Systems Instagram, which has been an insightful and engaging way to learn about the great work they are carrying out across the world.
Youth Ambassador Katie Hall has experience in education at the grassroots level, as well as in sales and communications. As head of the social media team, she is engaged in writing content, conducting interviews and social media strategy. She is interested in promoting understanding of issues of nutrition, food inequity and climate justice, and has particularly enjoyed writing on topics such as the nutritional value of oats, and indigenous languages.
How We Save Earth
Youth Ambassador Benjamin Brown has launched a YouTube channel to explore how we can fight climate change and save the planet! Find out more below.
Youth Ambassador and Communications Advisor Rafael Duarte is a journalist, photographer, documentary filmmaker, and Climate Reality Brazil Leader. Rafael currently hosts the RECONECTA (Reconnect) Podcast, which raises awareness on how society is directly impacted by the environmental crisis and climate change globally and locally. The 10 episodes of the First Season will hear specialists, scientists, communicators and influencers who will reflect on how the society can reconnect with urgent environmental issues to take action in a personal, institutional or in a political way. Subjects such as Policy Making, Deforestation, Climate Change, Economics among others will be discussed taking in consideration how it affects our species and our daily life. The podcast aims to discuss practical solutions and urgent actions needed for a more balanced, healthy, sustainable and durable world to live in. RECONECTA is available on the main platforms such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Castbox.
Youth Ambassador Alice Finet organised for Ed Winters (Earthling Ed) to come into her school to talk about veganism, animal welfare, and why everyone should adopt a plant-based diet.
Youth Ambassador Wanyan Hao is currently based in China and runs our Chinese social media. She has also translated all of our Real Food Systems resources into Chinese.
Youth Ambassador Elsa Schnyder has created a Community Outreach Presentation for our Youth Ambassadors to use when spreading the Real Food Systems message out in the community. If you would like a copy of the presentation please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Elsa has also been integral to the redesign of our social media, particularly Instagram.
Youth Ambassador Bianca Woess-Ljungdell has been sharing the real food systems message at her school. She has also created a presentation on plant-based diets and has filmed videos to raise awareness about plant-based diets and plastic pollution.
Research & Publications
Our Youth Ambassadors have done an extensive amount of research on topics such as Food Waste, Agriculture, Food Security & Food Safety:
Clara Mottura wrote her undergraduate dissertation on Urban Food Policies: the case of Montpellier.
Fabian Ottiger contributed to a policy paper entitled Making food systems safer: Time to curb use of highly hazardous pesticides with the Centre for Development and Environment at the University of Bern.
Pramisha Thapaliya has written an array of articles about agriculture, food, and climate issues through various media. Please see her articles below:
- 'Yes to SDG 1, No to Hunger', Committee on World Food Security, 16 June 2017.
- 'Impressions from COP24: Taking Climate Action for Zero Hunger', cropscience.bayer.com, November 2018.
- 'ENB+ Coverage of Selected Side Events at the Katowice Climate Change Conference, 13 December 2018', International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), 3-14 December 2018.
Yui Chiu wrote her postgraduate dissertation on Wonky Fresh Fruit and Vegetables not Reaching the Tongue: Case of the United Kingdom.
Elsa Schnyder carried out a research project in her senior year on Industrial Animal Agriculture: Environmental Impacts & Solutions. Please see her video presentation below.
Social Media Team
Youth Ambassadors Katie, Elsa, Jennifer, Pramisha, Reinhold, Nafees, Isaac, Emilie, Naomi, Léa, McKayla and Clara are currently helping us to make our social media even bigger and better than before! They are helping to research, create, and design content in order to raise awareness and spread the Real Food Systems message across the world. Find out more at @realfoodsystems on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Youth Ambassadors McKayla Dunfey and Mei Seva have been instrumental in the creation and design of the Real Food Systems website (realfoodsystems.org) and materials. Mei and McKayla also created three powerful campaign videos alongside RFS Founder Merete Johansson that have helped us to spread the Real Food Systems message.
Our Youth Ambassadors have joined millions of others in Global Climate Strikes across the world to raise awareness and demand for immediate climate action.