Student - May 30, 2018

Students organize e-conference on Zero Hunger

Konstantina Togka

The world of Stephanie Rycken and Apple Espino has become bigger since they started working for the international conference Towards Zero Hunger. Their main motive is the United Nations’ principle of ‘leaving no one behind’.

On 30 and 31 August 2018, WUR will host the international conference Towards Zero Hunger: Partnerships for Impact. The conference is about the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG): ‘end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’.

Stephanie Rycken (25) from Belgium and Apple Espino (29) from the Philippines are two of the nine Master’s students who are working on the conference. They take care of publicity and are organizing a parallel e-conference for students. For this, they have come up with the idea of a Foodathon, during which groups of student volunteers will work for 36 hours to find solutions to assigned challenges on the topic of Zero Hunger.

The most exciting achievement of the student committee so far is that everyone has found their role, Rycken says. ‘People working together can come up with creative and innovative ideas and this is part of what the conference represents.’ The nine Master’s students come from three different continents. This diversity has taught them to look at a problem from several different perspectives, and to empathize.

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As the team leader, Rycken has traveled to Chicago and Bonn to meet people who are working on the same topic, and to promote the event among students. She was the first student to get involved in the project. In a workshop during One World Week 2017, she was inspired by Martijn Visser, the UN Youth Representative for the SDGs. Espino first found out about the conference last August when she attended a lunchtime talk by Rycken. The student SDG committee really got started in November 2017, and sought ways of getting students more involved in the conference.

The SDG conference itself will bring together key stakeholders in order to discuss their views and what action they can take to contribute to achieving Zero Hunger. Students will have the opportunity to take part by joining the e-conference organized by the student committee. The winning teams of the Foodathon will be partnered with interested organizations for the development of their proposals. Following the principle of ‘leaving no one behind’, students will also be able to join the e-conference online. The SDG conference and the e-conference will run in parallel and their attendees will be able to interact with each other.

The student SDG committee is going to have a very busy summer. But even after the conference, their work will not stop. They intend to facilitate a platform on which conference participants can share their work on Zero Hunger and they hope the conference will become an annual event.

More information on the conference can be found on their website.

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