The World Food Prize Foundation

World Food Prize Foundation Hosts First Virtual Global Youth Institute in 26-Year History


Over 400 high school students and their teachers from ten different countries were selected to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute (GYI) October 9-22, a two-week long virtual event hosted in conjunction with the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium.

In order to be considered for participation, students identify a country of interest and research a topic affecting the global food system, then propose an evidence-based solution to improve the lives of families living within the country. Students are selected to attend the conference by presenting their solutions at a regional youth institute or through an at-large selection process.

This year's Global Youth Institute was held virtually for the first time in 26 years. During the two-week international symposium 215 high school students had the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of internationally renowned World Food Prize Laureates and leaders in nutrition, agriculture, technology, and international development. The program began with a keynote address from Mercy Corps CEO Tjada Mckenna.

"We were so fortunate to welcome Ms. Mckenna to present and discuss key food and agriculture issues from her perspective as the new CEO at Mercy Corps. Ms. Mckenna set the stage for students to participate in critical deliberations this year on resilience in food systems. Students brought their perspectives on key issues related to the impact of agriculture on climate change, the importance of increasing the availability of nutritious food , and the challenges of providing equitable access to safe, affordable food year-round," offered WFPF President, Barbara Stinson.

Global Youth Institute attendees participated in the full array of International Borlaug Dialogue sessions, which featured the following:

  • Former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore
  • 2020 World Food Prize ceremony honoring Dr. Rattan Lal
  • A Keynote by His Majesty Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein of Jordan
  • Researchers and non-profit leaders from around the globe

Students then presented their original research papers and participated in roundtable discussions with leading experts in agricultural industries, technological innovation and international policy. For the first time in the history of GYI, student delegates were given the opportunity to share their ideas from their research papers in a collaborative report that will be submitted to the advisors of the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit. Participants also took part in an exclusive cooking demonstration, hosted by the Food Forever Initiative, to better understand the importance of biodiversity within our food system and diets.

Student delegates represented 27 U.S. states and 10 countries: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin, as well as the countries of Bahrain, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Honduras, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Participants also viewed the 2020 World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony honoring Dr. Rattan Lal of India and the United States. He was recognized for developing and implementing a soil-centric approach to increasing food production that restores and conserves natural resources and mitigates climate change. His research and work has impacted 500 million smallholder farmers across four continents, improved nutritional security for more than two billion people and has saved hundreds of millions of hectares of natural tropical ecosystems. Coverage of the 2020 Laureate Award Ceremony is available at

Created by Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug and Iowa businessman John Ruan in 1994, the program was developed to challenge and inspire participating student-teacher teams to identify ways of alleviating hunger, and to expose the students to opportunities and careers in food, agriculture and natural resource disciplines.

High school educators interested in participating can visit and select their state or country on the map for more information on our programs and how to participate.

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