Young people from the Betic system, attracted to their territory but also fearful for its vulnerability

Oct 5, 2022

Author: Marta Baena (University of Cordoba)

Editor: Miranda García (AEIDL)

On 16 September 2022, the team of ADEGUA, which is the coordinator for the MOVING Reference Region of the Betic Systems (Córdoba, Spain), organised a workshop with more than 50 young people. All participants were students from different agri-food, agroecology and animation vocational training courses. 

The workshop aimed at knowing first-hand how young people felt attracted to the place they live, their vision for the future and their desire to plan their lives in the countryside and mountain areas, specifically the Subbética Cordobesa mountain range. 

Participants expressed a clear feeling of attatchment to their towns and surroundings, and also their willingness to carry out their future plans in these areas. However, essential changes must happen to make this possible. For the attendees there is a need to generate fairly paid jobs according to the territory’s needs. The importance of environmental commitment together with the fight against the effects of climate change, the promotion and implementation of innovative actions that diversify the economy, and the creation of participatory environments for young people were also mentioned as key issues.

But the main concern of the young students is the dark horizon that looms over rural and mountain areas. The increase of droughts and the lack of work only aggravates the trend towards depopulation and ageing that already characterises these places. Even while they have a certain existential anxiety, participants outlined what would mean for these mountain villages the development of renewal opportunities aimed at commiting ecological, local, and sustainable production. In other words, enhancing the value of natural resources and promoting the standard of living in these regions. 

During the workshop five young guests shared their successful experiences with participants. They described how to connect expectations, training, and employment in areas such as the Betic Systems, and in fields as diverse as organic olive growing, the packaging of organic vegetables, geology and environmental protection, agronomy, livestock farming, and environmental education.

These experiences connected with the difficulties these young people face in making their wishes for the future come true. The best option is going through training processes and internships that can sometimes positively imply staying outside the region to acquire the necessary skills and give time and space for reasoned decision-making before settling permanently in the regions of origin.

ADEGUA agrees with the young participants and highlighted the need to boost intergenerational dialogue spaces as well as support the development of small social, economic and environmental initiatives carried out by youth. They would test new activities and promote innovation based on diversification and change. The creation of collaborative networks by different actors at local level could allow the progress towards the effective development of innovative actions.

Check the highlights video of this workshop.

You can read a press release in Spanish, here