Junior selected to attend International Youth Agriculture Summit in Brussels


Greenwald participating in the WWOOF program in Belgium last summer. Courtesy of Julie Greenwald

Chris Deucher

Julie Greenwald, a junior Environmental Studies and Cultural Studies student, will represent both the University and the United States as she plans to participate in the third annual Youth Agriculture Summit in Brussels, Belgium. She will be one of five American students representing the country.  As the summit’s theme “Feeding a Hungry Planet” suggests, a delegation of 100 people from 49 countries will address the U.N Sustainable Development goals.  The summit will take place from Oct. 9 to 13.  

The five-day think tank summit, sponsored by Bayer, will provide students and experts from around the globe a forum to discuss some of the world’s most pressing issues: Ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agricultural practices. These goals are in line with the United Nation’s sustainable development agenda, which was adopted in 2015.  “I am looking forward to hearing from experts in the field, delving into issues and building networks to create changes,” Greenwald said.  “I’m really excited to bounce ideas off them and to build a network of people seeking to make these changes.”

“I believe that nutritional, sustainably-produced food should be an unalienable right for all members of the global community,” Greenwald continued. “Food insecurity is a local and, of course, a global issue which can only be truly resolved through global cooperation. In terms of environmental and social justice issues, now is a time when indifference is not good enough. Inaction is irresponsible. I am hungry for change and for a better world. This type of hunger will not be satiated until no one is hungry.”

This will not be Greenwald’s first time in Belgium. “Last summer, I took part in a program called WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), [in which one] can connect with organic farmers on a country-wide basis,” Greenwald said.  “So I was looking forward to spending time and working with farmers who are farming in a sustainable manner.”  

She spent a total of five weeks in three Belgian cities.  This experience strengthened Greenwald’s interest in the upcoming Youth Ag-Summit and the intersection between agriculture and sustainability.

“It was through the environmental leadership learning community freshman year that I was exposed to things like sustainable agriculture and the environmental impacts that producing our food has…” Greenwald said. “I was really interested in learning about what is going on globally and to get to know people my age who are also interested and are actually making an impact right now.”  

She attributes her interest in the program to relevant classwork.  Ultimately, it was a professor who recommended that Greenwald apply for the Youth Ag-Summit.  

“I think the campus as a whole—including myself—has a lot to learn about sustainability, especially about where our food is coming from.  I think Villanova can play a big role in that,” Greenwald said.  “I definitely would love to get the conversation going more on campus.” 

Come mid-October, Greenwald will return to campus and bring her experiences from the Brussel Youth Ag-Summit with her.