What we eat works: The BIOPOLI Youth Education Poject

Regionally grown cauliflower or would you prefer avocados from Mexico, organic apples from a farmer nearby or Spanish strawberries in the middle of winter? Whatever we eat has far-reaching implications: every day we opt for more or less sustainability on our plates – and therefore in the world in which we live.

Wasting food, heavy meat consumption, genetic engineering in the fields: the connections between our dietary habits and current ecological challenges are varied and complex. The BIOPOLI youth education project run by Hamburg’s Agrar Koordination / Forum association for international agricultural policy provides an explanation. Its qualified lecturers visit schools, youth groups or young adults nationwide to provide sound information about agriculture and nutrition.

The range of issues is broad and not tied to individual subjects. Very different modules are presented on the association’s website: “Heat waves and heavy rain – what does that have to do with me?” it says in relation to climate change and agriculture, for example. “It doesn’t always have to be wheat” is the title of another unit that deals with biodiversity and food sovereignty. Shorter teaching units as well as entire project days are provided. In addition to environmental aspects, political aspects are also involved, especially greater justice for the global south. “The global interconnections between agricultural production and trade are a highly political issue”, says Dirk Randoll, project manager at SAGST, and emphasises this point. “BIOPOLI encourages young people to deal with these important questions. Ultimately, with our purchasing decisions we are all a part of these processes and have an influence on them.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, those responsible have also developed various new online programmes: teachers and pupils are given suggestions for quizzes, learning snacks and armchair rallies. The programme’s approach has already received numerous awards as part of the UN World Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. BOPOLI has also been a project as part of the UN Decade for Biodiversity since 2017.