The future of young people in Crete: sustainable development and viable agri-value chains

by | Jul 11, 2022 | MOVING

Author: Andreas Vavvos (University of Crete)

Editor: Miranda García (AEIDL)

During the European Year of Youth (2022), each regional partner of the MOVING H2020 project will engage young people through a flexible participatory workshop. The first workshop has been organised by the reference region Crete (Greece), coordinated by the University of Crete.

On 29 June 2022, a total of 10 participants attended this workshop held in the Anogeia Mountainous Village. Six young people between 19 and 29 involved in agricultural and livestock farming activities, collectives, and development projects participated. And the remaining four? People in their 40s and 50s interested in youth programming regarding sustainability and the development of agricultural collectives. All participated actively showing interest in MOVING and in its Community of Practice.

Curious about the concept and processes involved in dynamic agricultural value chains, the discussion focused on food systems, specifically production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption outcomes, including socio-economic and environmental ones.

Another theme of this participatory workshop was the search for a way to strengthen economic activities in the region. They concluded that it is essential to involve multiple economic sectors to enhance, for example, agro-tourism, new value chains and the Product of Origin status of the local milk and cheese value chain.

Scepticism was present during the event. Because of the region’s high altitude and the predominance of livestock farming, the contribution of the carob flour value chain to Anogeia’s resilience and sustainability is uncertain.

But the main concern of all participants was the future. It would be pessimistic if the Agricultural Cooperative of Anogeia, inactive since 2010, is not re-established and if coupled value chains and innovations for the sustainability of agrifood systems are not designed locally and promoted by well-thought-out policies. That’s why they agree on the importance of recognizing, harnessing, and building on mutual understanding and respect and working side-by-side in promoting their community’s agrifood initiatives.

The projection into the future is of concern to all participants. There is a need to:

  1. re-establish the Anogeia Agricultural Cooperative, inactive since 2010;
  2. design locally coupled value chains and innovations for the sustainability of agri-food systems and
  3. promote well thought out policies.

All agreed on the importance of recognising, harnessing and building on mutual understanding and respect, and working hand in hand to promote agri-food initiatives in their community.

The next steps to be taken by the Crete reference region are to maintain contact with the participants of this youth workshop and to hold another one, but in this case in a mountain agro-silvo pastoral village.

These participatory youth engagement workshops will also take place in the other 22 mountainous project reference regions until October 2022. Local stakeholders will gather and explore local youth views on sustainable mountain development (SMD) to see how the whole value chain can support their vision of SMD.

The results of these workshops will be used to feed into the participatory aspects of the vulnerability, sustainability and resilience assessment, and also to identify relevant clusters to categorise the different value chains. The results will also be used to carry out the multi-level foresight exercises. This task builds on the Europarc Youth Manifesto and UNIMONT manifesto and brings a youth perspective to the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas (LTVRA).