Green Jobs for Youth: What Works?

In the recently concluded session, “Green Jobs for Youth: What Works?”, held on the sidelines of the Global Conference on Decent Jobs for Youth, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in conjunction with AGRA, SNV and USAID; brought together experts, leaders, and young innovators to explore the critical intersection of agrifood systems, climate change, and youth employment. The session was a vibrant, solution-oriented dialogue; that focused on practical examples and successful initiatives that highlighted partners can support youth in securing green jobs and leveraging digital opportunities.

The Challenges and Opportunities

Agrifood systems stand at a pivotal crossroads. They are not only significant contributors to global emissions, but are also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This dual role underscores the urgency of transforming these systems to mitigate climate change effects while ensuring food security for present and future generations. One of the most promising pathways to achieving this transformation is through the promotion of green jobs, particularly for the youth who are both the future workforce and the torchbearers of innovative solutions.

Key Insights from the Speakers

Coumba SOW, FAO Country Representative (Rwanda and Djibouti):

Ms. Coumba emphasized the importance of creating opportunities for green, digital, and decent jobs for the youth. She highlighted that young people, who constitute a significant portion of the continent’s population, must either secure a green job or create one. This approach is crucial to addressing the intertwined challenges of unemployment, digitalization, and climate change.

“It’s imperative that we create and seize opportunities for green, digital, and decent jobs for our youth. Our youth must either secure a green job or create one.”

Figure 1: Ms. Coumba SOW, FAO Country Representative (Rwanda and Djibouti) giving her opening remarks

Jessie Fagan, Programme Officer, Rural Transformation and Gender Equality Division, FAO:

Ms. Fagan spoke on the necessity of inclusivity in tackling employment challenges. She pointed out that women and other marginalized groups often lack equal access to markets and opportunities. Bringing farmers into the decision-making process and supporting the most vulnerable populations are essential steps in creating inclusive growth.

“We should not leave anyone behind, especially the youth and the most vulnerable. It’s essential to bring farmers on board and involve them as decision-makers.”

Figure 2: “…it is essential to bring farmers on board and involve them as decision-makers.” Jessie Fagan

Jean Muthamia-Mwenda, Global Lead, Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship, SNV:

Ms. Muthamia-Mwenda focused on the systemic barriers that hinder the job market and emphasized the need to consider the entrepreneurial needs of young people. She recommended creating enabling environments, fostering partnerships, and sharing experiences to effectively promote decent job creation.

“It’s crucial to consider the needs of young people, particularly in entrepreneurship. I recommend creating enabling environments, fostering partnerships, and documenting and sharing experiences to address the challenge of decent job creation.”

Prof. Tilahun Amede, Director for Climate Adaptation, Sustainable Agriculture and Resilience, AGRA:

Prof. Amede highlighted the potential for job creation through improved agricultural productivity and essential services like irrigation and food processing. He stressed the importance of protecting the environment while creating dignified and sustainable jobs, supported by policies that facilitate youth access to land and other resources.

“By improving our agricultural productivity, we can create additional jobs. We must protect the environment to combat climate change while ensuring that the jobs created are dignified and sustainable.”

Figure 3: Prof. Amede (far right) giving his remarks alongside fellow panelists.

Marie Ange Mukagahima, Founder and CEO, Zima Health Group; and Generation Africa alumni: 

Ms. Mukagahima provided an inspiring example of youth-led innovation in creating green jobs. She called for investment in young people, recognizing their passion and innovative potential. She urged her peers to step up and create green jobs while conserving the environment.

“Youth should take a proactive step towards creating green jobs while also conserving the environment. However, accessing markets remains a significant challenge. For instance, producing oil is one thing, but finding ways to sell it to hotels is another. We need input from stakeholders to ease the process of market access for the youth.”

Figure 4: Ms. Mukagahima emphasized on sustainable impact, utilizing locally sourced raw materials grown by rural women farmers to not only support local economies but also promote environmental stewardship

Moving Forward: Strategies for Scaling Up

The session underscored several critical success factors required to support young people with green jobs and digital opportunities:

  • Inclusive Policies: Implementing land and tax policies that facilitate youth access to resources.
  • Enabling Environments: Creating conditions that foster entrepreneurship and innovation among young people.
  • Partnerships: Building strong collaborations between governments, development partners, private sectors, and youth organizations.
  • Documentation and Sharing: Collecting and disseminating lessons learned and best practices to inform future initiatives.


The “Green Jobs for Youth: What Works?” session was a compelling call to action for all stakeholders involved in agrifood systems and youth employment. By addressing systemic barriers and fostering an inclusive, supportive environment, we can unlock the potential of young people to drive sustainable development and climate resilience. The path forward is clear: invest in our youth, embrace green and digital opportunities, and ensure that no one is left behind.

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