Youth perspectives: the importance of partnerships between North and South

Rahel Wyss' presentation “Networks are one of the key elements of partnerships”, said Dr. Linley Chiwona-Karltun, Research Associate  at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

She was introducing and moderating the afternoon session at the workshop in the AGRINATURA General Assembly meeting that took place on 27th April 2017 at SLU in Uppsala, Sweden. The workshop focused on the topic of mutual prosperity – why North and South need each other. If this is so, we, Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) as a global network build a basis for partnerships in itself.

With the kind support of my dear colleagues at YPARD Europe and YPARD Global Unit, I, Rahel Wyss, as the YPARD Switzerland country representative prepared a short speech for the workshop on the topic of “Youth perspective: the importance of partnerships between North and South”.

Presenting YPARD at Agrinatura General Assembly meetingYPARD on fostering cooperation of young professionals between North and South

Setting the scene, I started off with the question: How does YPARD enhance practical cooperation for young professionals in Global North and South? Then I gave three examples of activities, which contribute to the fostering of partnerships between the Global South and North within the YPARD community:

  1. The YPARD hangouts which were done last year 2016 to exchange knowledge and address the major constraints that country representatives are facing in their roles.
  2. The YPARD showcase section as another example, where young people from North and South share their experiences on matters youth in agriculture. The latter brings the angle of learning from each other and breaks up the usual top-down relationship between North and South.
  3. Events like the GCARD3, the GLF, as well as the YPARD social media channels which are used as a platform for dialogue for both Global North and South on matters of youth in agriculture.

Rahel Wyss at the Agrinatura General Assembly meeting

But why are partnerships between North and South important for young professionals?

In my opinion, partnerships are the core of YPARD. Without partnerships, which of course take place on very different levels; a network such as YPARD would not be alive. North and South need each other. Without the South, YPARD would not be what it is today and vice versa.  

On a more personal note, I expressed my appreciation of partnerships and opportunities, which YPARD has given and is giving me. Fortunately, I always find entry points within our network and partnerships for new collaboration in order to bring not only my personal career forward but also to build up new and deepen existing relationships with other network members.

However, from a more critical perspective, I also feel that based on geographical regions, not all communities live partnerships in the same way. I have the impression that the networks and partnerships are still much more appreciated by Southern than by Northern countries. In Switzerland, for example, everyone is so saturated with information, exchanges and opportunities; thus, it is difficult to recognize additional benefits from such a network.

Globally and concluding, I experience YPARD’s North-South collaboration in networking and building partnerships as a continuous process of knowledge generation, mutual learning, building of mutual trust, and taking into account the very little resources available. YPARD is a growing community with scarce resources in terms of finances. This is why the networks and partnerships development out of it are so important in order to achieve more with less.

“Partnerships need time,” Linley Chiwona-Karltun insists as a final note. And this is how it should be.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all partners, at this point especially all AGRINATURA members, and all Senior Researchers and Scientists who support young professionals in a way and for their endless efforts and patience with us, the younger generation.

Picture credit: Malin Planting, from SLU Global.