If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to always be ready for the unpredictable. As we step into a new year, we’ve asked our team of TFF Regional Coordinators what they consider the most important skills and attitudes for next-gen changemakers to embrace in 2021 and beyond. With these insights in mind, we invite you to find ways to stop holding on to the past, to align with the changing paradigm, and to join in supporting the global transformation that the next generations have ignited everywhere. 

1. Embrace change as something positive.

Lethicia (Europe): “Our agricultural and food sectors have provided us with important support during the COVID-19 crisis. We are seeing more people paying attention to the health and quality of food products, to furthering issues like food equity and justice, and to supporting local and seasonal food chains. I believe that 2021 will come with even more positive transformations.”

2. Be a rebel with a cause.

Utsav (Middle East & Asia): “In every era, it is the youth who rebel against the status quo. As leaders of the next generations, we must continue to elevate our voices and increase our participation, so that we can shape the systems and decision-making processes that will impact our future. Our quest should be to always learn, but even more importantly, to unlearn, so that we can uproot prevailing untruths and injustices and chart a new course.” 

3. Collaborate, and then collaborate more.

Morris (East Africa): “As we dive into a future that will be marked by more uncertainty and ambiguity, we all need to master the art of cooperation. To learn how to collaborate effectively, we have to jump in and start collaborating – there is no shortcut. By practicing this skill day in and day out, there is no telling what we will be able to do together.”

4. Be agile, always.

Brittany (Oceania): “A clear serendipitous consequence of the pandemic has been the advancement of digital collaboration and flexible workplaces. In this context, the ability to stay agile is critical. Harnessing change and allowing your actions and decisions to adapt constantly and consistently allows individuals, start-ups and even established workplaces to be resilient to any challenges they may face.” 

5. Lead with forward-thinking.

Maame (West Africa): “Being a forward thinker is about thriving and achieving growth and success amidst overwhelming uncertainties. As a forward-thinking leader, it is important to communicate your vision and passion authentically and from the heart. This way, you can connect the short-term goals of today and tomorrow to the bigger picture of what you are trying to achieve.  

6. Replace “failing” with “GROWth”.

Luke (Caribbean): “As farmers, we learn to nurture our plants, especially when they endure harsh conditions. Developing a GROWth mindset allows you to take any disencouraging experiences and setbacks positively. Learning to treat yourself and the others around you with extra care and attention when times are tough gives you the chance to grow even stronger.”  

7. Live and breathe generosity.

Jessica (Brazil): “Over the past year, we have witnessed an unfortunate trend of nationalism and egocentrism in the world. If we want to solve the biggest challenges of our time, then we have to look around us, and see that we are all part of a system. One action to a piece of this system can affect the entire thing. That’s why we need to value our interdependence, be generous with everyone around us, and focus on keeping our relationships with each other healthy and strong.” 

8. Open up and share your experiences.

Dario (LATAM): “Some people are reluctant to share their real selves and their experiences with others. They think that they are losing their edge. But, actually the way to gain advantage is to dare to be open, and talk to as many people as you can. Share good and bad experiences, pack your conversations with as many questions as you can, and listen and learn. The insight or opportunity that you are looking for might just be one serendipitous conversation away.”

9. Be SMART.

Christina (Southeast Asia): “The start of a new year is always a great time to think about the future and set goals. We may be leaving 2020 behind, but the challenges of ensuring that we all have access to safe, nutritious food still remains, and is as urgent as ever. Reading these stats about food security in my region, I am devoting more time to setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based) goals. This strategic method is a time-tested and purposeful way to make sure we can achieve the things we care about.”  

10. Change your perspective.

Cuthbert (Southern Africa): “The COVID-19 global pandemic has exposed our vulnerability to hunger and has reversed many of the gains we have achieved in relation to the SDGs. It has also highlighted that in order to achieve our global goals, we need to think about our local food systems differently. Everything local is global, and everything global is local. Changing our perspectives, and embracing the different scales of attitudes and behaviours that we need, allows us to make positive changes at every level.” 

11. Find your support system.

Matt (North America):Life in quarantine makes us reflect more on the time we spend with others — and who we spend that time with. This new year brings an incredible opportunity to focus on building empowering support systems around us. Find a constellation of inspiring role models, mentors, and teammates that you can rely on, and who can help bring out the best in you.”

12. Start a revolution.

Isabel (Central America): “We are the generations that want to make Bill Drayton’s motto real: “Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or to teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have completely revolutionized the fishing industry!” Don’t be discouraged by the obstacles in your way. Instead, discover the revolutionist inside of you, and use that fire to drive the change we need.”

Feel inspired to get involved?

Reach out to our Community Manager Marie to learn how you can get involved in our global community and become a changemaker for food system transformation.