JOIN THE DISCUSSION: How can we address rural-urban migration of youth in post-2015 development agenda?

This article posts during GLF 2014. See in English | Espanol
Ollivier Girard for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Ollivier Girard for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

At the Global Landscapes Forum’s Youth Session, Ivonne Lobos Alva and Ayesha Constable will be facilitating a discussion on “landscapes and the Post-2015 Agenda.”

Global youth are key stakeholders and future leaders of society, and they need to be given the platform and to actively take the opportunity to set up the agenda for the future.

During our discussion, we will prioritize issues related to youth and landscapes to make specific recommendations to be submitted to policy makers for the ongoing negotiation process at the United Nations level on a global development agenda. We invite you to share your thoughts and contribute to the group’s final recommendations. You will find some guiding questions at the bottom of this post which you can give inputs to in the comment section.

At the session, we will discuss the Post-2015 Development Agenda, more specifically, the proposal for 17 Sustainable Development Goals  by the Open Working Group of the General Assembly in order to review the proposed goals that address issues related to youth and landscapes: i.e. goals for poverty eradication, food security and sustainable agriculture, inequality and the protection of terrestrial ecosystems. We will then split into working groups to discuss these issues based on case studies and experiences by the participants and formulate policy recommendations to be discussed in the wider group. Then, our session pitcher Mona Zoghbi will take our message to the wider audience of the Global Landscapes Forum.

Youth and landscapes are closely linked in the framework of sustainable development. Why should young people choose to stay in rural areas and engage in agricultural work or support sustainable landscape management? While many rural communities depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, they face increasing challenges of resource degradation, competition for scarce resources and the effects of climate change.

At the same time, we are seeing an increased trend of young people choosing to migrate from their rural homes to urban areas in search of better opportunities for education, social welfare, and employment. Can we create the necessary conditions to empower young people and provide them with more options?

We must critically and collectively reflect on an important landscape issue we are currently witnessing: A large percentage of global internal immigrants are young people and farmers. Young people are 40 percent more likely to move from rural to urban areas or across urban areas than older individuals. We should care about this issue because children and youth constitute the main share of population in many developing countries, accounting for almost half of the rural population.

The migration of rural youth has significant consequences for economic development and the sustainability of rural areas as the agricultural labor force is ageing. Who will farm lands and produce food? Who will manage landscapes to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and conserve water and land resources for the long-term? What are the wider repercussions for local, national and global food security and sustainable development?

To provide the context: a young person living in, and often leaving, rural areas, especially in developing countries is usually faced with great challenges and perplexing questions, such as “can I feasibly stay with my family, in my home town and make a decent living for myself?” “How can I contribute to the protection of the land and the resources around me, when I have little access to land and other productive resources or lack secure rights over the land on which I produce food?” “How can I gain a good education without having to move to a big city?”

This online discussion invites youth around the world to engage with current post-2015 development debates and decisions through sharing and discussing their ideas, stories, experiences and perspectives on how we can ensure decent livelihoods for youth who choose to stay in rural areas and to support their contribution to achieving global food security.

To delve more deeply into practical examples and personal experiences and to gather innovative ideas, here are a few questions (below) that we would like to hear your thoughts on:

  1. In what ways do you think young people in rural areas contribute to the sustainable use and management of landscapes (do you have any particular experiences or examples)?
  2. What, in your opinion or experience, are the main challenges that hinder or limit rural youth from focusing their time or career in managing landscapes and natural resources?
  3. How can the interests of rural youth be more effectively integrated in terms of topics, goals, targets and financing in the proposed SDGs?

Please join the discussion by posting a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you and to representing your voice on a global stage at the Forum!

Ivonne, Mona and Ayesha.