Authors: Rachel Creaney and Kirsty Blackstock (The James Hutton Institute)
Editor: Blanca Casares (AEIDL)
According to the recent Euromontana’s report, ‘Europe’s mountain areas are facing a constant threat to their attractiveness, especially among younger generations. In some regions, the rural exodus of young mountain people and the ageing of the population endanger the demographic balance, social cohesion, and economic appeal of our mountains. Yet, the new generations are the future of our territories’. As such, it is vital to include the viewpoints and engagement of young people into the MOVING project research activities, so they can both shape and participate in the sustainable development of Europe’s Mountain areas and industries. In 2021, Euromontana gathered the views of 1134 young people living in mountain areas across 20 European countries. The results identified that these young people want to remain living (and potentially) working in Europe’s Mountain areas. Such motivation to live in these mountain areas can only continue if development in these mountain areas continues to be sustainable and attractive to young people in terms of being able to appreciate the surrounding natural environment and have the potential to work and live in the area (either through commuting or working in the mountainous area). Furthermore, given the Europarc Youth Manifesto calls for the engagement of young people in connecting to their communities and developing sustainable futures, and the widely signed UNIMONT manifesto which highlights drawing attention to the specificities of mountain areas , MOVING is well placed to add to and further such engagement and discussions. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the current Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas which identifies areas of action towards stronger, connected, resilient and prosperous rural areas and communities.
As such, the work of MOVING’s Task 1.5 (engaging young people living in mountain regions) is of huge current importance. This task is being led by our Scottish partners at the James Hutton Institute. Within each of our 23 regions we are currently planning and running engagement workshops which aim to engage young people in discussions about rural development in the mountains, about their desires for the future and about opportunities within their value chains. Our partners in Crete have already carried out their workshop which you can read about here. We will share more stories from the youth engagement activities over the coming months.