The following guest post courtesy of Brendan Rice, winner of the 2013 President William Jefferson Clinton Hunger Leadership Award. After graduating from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Brendan took his hunger-fighting talents to Rome, Italy, where he currently serves as a consultant for the FAO.
The Clinton Hunger Leadership Award has and continues to fuel my interest to take part in the important task of ending hunger. It has provided me a vibrant network of similarly motivated individuals and organizations that impact my thinking and action on the subject of shaping a fairer and more just global food system.
Linking leadership experiences during university to continued engagement through a career is the essence of what I see the Clinton Award doing. Most recently, I have pursued my goals through the framework of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) because of its scale and capacity to shape systems that impact the issue of hunger.
While in Sierra Leone in 2013, I was involved in FAO and the Government of Sierra Leone’s effort to improve food security through developing rural institutions called Agricultural Business Centers (ABCs) that increase access to services and markets for smallholder farmers, who are often the most vulnerable. This led to a desire to further my understanding of the interaction between cooperation at the global level and projects and policies at the national level such as the one in Sierra Leone.
Through my current job at FAO headquarters in Rome, I have the opportunity to work on the subject of family farming in the FAO division on advocacy, partnerships, and capacity development. I write on the issue, liaise with others to ensure family farming is given proper attention in programs, and work on projects that facilitate effective polices for family farmers at the national and regional level. I am interested in family farming – and associated issues such as producer organizations, access to markets, and sustainable food systems – because of its important role in meeting a number of challenges from food insecurity to climate change. Family farming is one piece – a very important piece – of the broader picture of a future where no one is hungry, a picture in which we all play a role.
What I have learned since receiving the Clinton Award is that we – organizations, governments, and individuals – are far more effective when we work in concert with one another, beyond our own silos. I believe that our generation embodies this cooperative and innovative spirit. The Clinton Award and what it represents not only reflects but also shapes and nurtures this spirit in young people, and for this I consider myself thankful to have been impacted by the award.
Help us help you achieve your dreams of changing the world! Applications for the 2016 Clinton Hunger Leadership Award are still being accepted through December 4th, 2015. For details, including instructions on how to apply, click here.