Rural Youth Project Director, Jane Craigie, has recently returned from speaking at the 12th Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) Rural Development Conference in Seoul.
The conference focus was to share leading practices from across the world on how rural policies can support rural business to embrace new technologies, create jobs adapted to demographic trends and enabling the transition to a low carbon economy that creates jobs. Among the scope of the wider OECD Rural forum is to identify ways to improve the competitiveness of rural places and to find ways to reverse the trend for rural population ageing.
Ms Craigie shared the findings of the Rural Youth Project, focusing on why young people live in and leave rural places and what their project is doing to try and encourage young people to return and remain in the countryside.
“What was very clear from our own research and hearing from the representatives of OECD’s 36 member countries, the challenges relating to youth retention are shared all over the world,” she said.
“Our own survey findings highlighted that people aged 18-28 struggle with job opportunities, connectivity and social integration, which are the primary reasons that they might consider moving to a city; added to this trio of woes, only 13% feel that they have a say in their communities and therefore any power to change rural places for the better,” she added.
“Despite these challenges, a sentiment that we have captured in our engagement with rural youngsters is that this demographic is also optimistic about their future in the countryside, something that was echoed in both France and South Korea.”
Commenting on the Youth Session at the conference, OECD’s Head of Rural, Jose Enrique Garcilazo said:
“Improving quality of service delivery and long-term planning in rural areas stands out as a key instrumental policy to improve attractiveness of rural areas and attract young population.”
The OECD launched the OECD Principles on Rural Policy- a guideline for governments to implement rural policies- and its Rural 3.0 Report at the Seoul event.
The latter is the new framework on rural development policy based on people centred approach, which reflects the important change in rural policy creation:
Ms Craigie said: “It was a real honour to be asked to share how a grassroots organisation like ours has utilised events, storytelling and international networking to inspire the next generation of rural people. Our hope is that the connections that we have made will help us develop collaborations that will improve our understanding and furnish us with great ideas to help make rural places welcoming and fulfilling for the under 30s.”