Prosperity in place: meaningful work for mobile youth that enhances forest landscapes
This report explores how forest and farm producer organisations (FFPOs) can best nurture youth and address youth migration. Youth (15-24 years of age) bring energy and innovation to forest and farm production systems. Of a total global youth population of 1.2 billion, 85% live in developing countries where they make up the mainstay of the rural workforce. Yet, 75% of youth are currently classified as underutilised (unemployed; in irregular or informal jobs; or outside of formal education and training). As the use of social media expands, many youth see prosperity lying outside, rather than within, their rural place of origin. Youth make up 30% of the largest categories of migrants who leave to find education or meaningful work. Women form 48% of the overall migrant population of 1.5 billion (most moving within countries) – often attracted by urban opportunity beyond patriarchal rural systems. This rural exodus brings productivity challenges, but also opportunities such as remittances of cash, information and contacts. Most FFPOs surveyed already have active youth programmes that attempt to build opportunity for youth ‘remainers’. But this report also recommends approaches that embrace youth ‘leavers’ and ‘returners’ to strengthen attachment to place, and improve youth contributions across all three groups.