Increasingly development reports and media cite the global youth bulge: the 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 to 24 years old that make todays world population the most youthful to-date. Defined by a variety of ranges (e.g. 10-24; 15-32 years old, etc.) most of these young people roughly 90 per cent live in the developing world, and the majority are in rural areas. These young people in rural areas are very often chronically unemployed or in vulnerable work positions. In this context, development discourse and economic outlooks portray youth as having both the potential to be agents and makers of the future and as threats and breakers of economic downturns and political unrest. Challenges and opportunities lie ahead for the global Souths youth population, and for governments and institutions when it comes to providing for their growing youth population.
In light of these demographic and economic trends, young people play a unique and significant role in the future of rural livelihoods and forest and land-use systems. However, rural youth in the global South are poorly understood and overlooked in research compared to more visible social groups and those living in urban centers. Within CGIAR, research on rural youth in relation to forest and agricultural production systems is lacking. For the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), there is a clear need to address these research gaps, as dominant youth narratives can misconstrue how processes of class, politics and geographical divides create and reinforce vulnerabilities.
As an entry point into research on youth, FTA and Bioversity International are presenting a webinar hosted by the CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research with key thinkers and practitioners working on youth and development studies in Latin America, Asia and Africa. The hour-long webinar will discuss key issues affecting todays young people, as well as the role of research organizations such as CGIAR.
Discussion Points Include:
The challenges rural youth face in agriculture, natural resource management and forestry
The role of policy and institutions such as CGIAR in addressing young peoples challenges in access to education, employment and other needs
The opportunities and interests rural youth have in agriculture, natural resource management and forestry
New areas of research and field methods needed for working with rural young people
Daniela Rivas is the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) Peru Representative. She has worked with rural and indigenous communities and small scale growers in horticulture and forestry activities across Latin America. In Peru, her work has been in helping to conserve landscapes in partnership with local communities and representing youth at international forums such as the Third Global Forum on Agricultural Research for Development.
Fraser Sugden is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham. He has written extensively on shifting class, gender and generational relations in agriculture, and their interaction with contemporary environmental, political and economic stresses. He has conducted intensive rural fieldwork across South and East Asia, with a focus on Nepal and the Eastern Gangetic Plains, and was based in this region for most of the last decade prior to joining the School. He maintains a commitment to interdisciplinary action research with strong engagement and partnership with civil society and organisations working at the grassroots.
Jessica Clendenning is a PhD Candidate in Human Geography at the National University of Singapore. Her research explores how rural youth plan to engage in their natal village and land in Flores, Indonesia. She wants to understand how changing demographic and mobility patterns impact upon families agricultural practices, land and social relations.
Jim Sumberg is a Research Fellow in the Rural Futures research cluster at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Brighton. UK. He is an agriculturalist by training. Since 2009 he has led a number of research projects on youth and employment in Africa.
Marlène Elias (moderator) is a Gender Specialist at Bioversity International and Gender Research Coordinator for the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. She leads gender research and supports gender integration in Bioversitys work on forest genetic resources. Marlène has a BSc in Biology and Environmental Sciences, and an MA and PhD in Geography. Rooted in a feminist political ecology approach, her research focuses on gendered dimensions of forest management and restoration, local ecological knowledge(s), and forest/agri-food value chains, predominantly in West Africa and South and Central Asia.