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Lessons on Building More Sustainable Rural Societies: Youth and Mobility

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021) | Viewed by 40782

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Geography, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
Interests: transportation; mobility; accessibility; transportation disadvantage; social exclusion; travel behaviour; geography

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Guest Editor
Department of Pedagogy, University of Girona, Girona, Spain
Interests: immigration; Romà and travellers; social inclusion and education

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Mobility is a people’s need and is one of fundamental and important characteristics of human activities, as it fulfils the basic need of going from one location to the other. Mobility enables social, cultural, political, and economic activities to take place. Mobility is the recurring aspect where transportation has its most significant societal impacts (Rodrigue, 2020). However, mobility in rural areas and their impacts to social inclusion and rural development is a phenomenon that have been poorly studied until today. One example is the study of international migration (either economic or forced) to rural areas (European Commission, 2019). Mobility could be more constrained for some social groups, but also for some geographical areas. Challenges on mobility and youth have widely been explored in urban areas but much less explored with regard to rurality and its consequences for rural development and sustainability. In recent years, discussions on three intersectional topics, such as rurality, youth, and mobility, are at the forefront of the debate about sustainable rural development and the 2030 agenda adopted by the United Nations.

In this Special Issue, we encourage researchers to submit articles connected to one or various topics of the abovementioned intersectionality. We expect to receive theoretical, methodological, and empirical contributions on (but not only) topics related to: 

  • How youth outgoing migration affects aging and sustainability in rural areas; 
  • Rural youth not in education nor in employment; 
  • How youth internal migration contributes to rural sustainability; 
  • What type of policies or practices help youth to stay in rural areas;
  • How youth migrants and asylum seekers are settled and what challenges they face;
  • Exploring the key issues affecting mobility of youth in rural areas;
  • Links between mobility and lack of employment, education, and training in rural areas;
  • Strategies for improving rural mobility of youth;
  • Transportation and commuting strategies and challenges for rural areas that are relevant for youth inclusion and sustainability;
  • How constrained transportation options could lead to transportation disadvantage and social exclusion of youth in rural areas;
  • Limited accessibility in rural areas and its impact on youth everyday lives.

The scope of this Special Issue is to provide a platform for researchers to share their research work on the field of youth mobility and rurality, including aspects of migrations, transportation, commuting, rural development, social exclusion, and inclusion.

References:

European Commission (2019). Migration in EU rural areas. Luxembourg: JRC Science Hub, https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC116919 01/10/2020

Rodrigue, J.-P., 2020: The geography of transport systems, https://transportgeography.org/, 29/09/2020

Dr. Slaven Gasparovic
Dr. Òscar Prieto-Flores
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • youth
  • mobility
  • outgoing and incoming migration
  • transportation in rural areas
  • accessibility
  • commuting
  • rural areas
  • rurality
  • rural development
  • NEET
  • sustainability
  • social exclusion
  • social inclusion

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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4 pages, 207 KiB  
Editorial
Editorial: Lessons on Building More Sustainable Rural Societies: Youth and Mobility
by Slaven Gasparovic and Òscar Prieto-Flores
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10370; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810370 - 17 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1791
Abstract
Mobility is a fundamental and important characteristic of human activity: it fulfils the basic need of going from one location to the other in order to partake in employment, kinship, and education [...] Full article

Research

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21 pages, 1179 KiB  
Article
Learning to Leave and to Return: Mobility, Place, and Sense of Belonging amongst Young People Growing up in Border and Rural Regions of Mainland Portugal
by Sofia Marques da Silva, Ana Milheiro Silva, Pablo Cortés-González and Rūta Brazienė
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9432; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169432 - 23 Aug 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 3440
Abstract
This article examines how mobility is incorporated into the lives of young people growing up in rural border regions of continental Portugal. It also explores how municipalities are dealing with the contemporary imperative of mobility and its consequences. Young people from these regions [...] Read more.
This article examines how mobility is incorporated into the lives of young people growing up in rural border regions of continental Portugal. It also explores how municipalities are dealing with the contemporary imperative of mobility and its consequences. Young people from these regions are affected by decisions to leave to continue studying in higher education, or to find a job. Combined, these lead to an outward migration trend and thus loss of human capital. This paper is based on a multi-method research project carried out in the border regions and involves young people and other stakeholders from 38 municipalities. The data were selected from a questionnaire completed by young people (9th–12th grade; n = 3968), 38 semi-structured interviews with local policymakers, 50 biographical interviews, and 5 focus groups with young people. Results indicate that although most young people aspire to further education and do not fear leaving their region, they nonetheless tend to integrate the necessity to be mobile into their biographies. Hence, they do not associate it with displacement or as being tantamount to abandoning their region, and to which some of them want to return. We consider that in parallel with learning to leave local sentiments, policies, and actions are emerging towards coalescing a trend of learning to stay and returning. We propose an interpretation of this tendency as indicative of new understandings around these peripheral territories and which are shaped by young people’s experience of reconciling a sense of belonging to place and any associated mobilities. Full article
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19 pages, 284 KiB  
Article
A Conceptual Framework for the Evaluation of Social Agriculture: An Application to a Project Aimed at the Employability of Young People NEET
by Antonio Baselice, Maurizio Prosperi and Antonio Lopolito
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8608; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158608 - 02 Aug 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1807
Abstract
Agriculture can be a possible provider of social services of relevant importance for the whole society. In order to generate a valuable social service, a multi-actor approach is often applied, based on an active collaboration among public institutions, non-profit organizations, and private firms, [...] Read more.
Agriculture can be a possible provider of social services of relevant importance for the whole society. In order to generate a valuable social service, a multi-actor approach is often applied, based on an active collaboration among public institutions, non-profit organizations, and private firms, and capable of generating multiple positive impacts. This new approach may both favorite agricultural diversification and enhance the quality of life of rural communities. However, in order to enable policymakers in motivating the public support to these types of initiatives, an evaluation method capable of disentangling the multiple benefits generated by social agricultural projects is required. In this paper, we adapted the evaluation method previously developed by the SIMRA consortium for Social Innovation initiatives, to a project aimed at the employability of NEETs in the south of Italy. A selection grid, framed by cross-referencing the national policy objectives of social agriculture and the criteria of eligibility adopted in public calls is proposed, to choose the suitable indicators for the evaluation. The evaluation experience allowed the measurement of 34 indicators of performance. The results prove that 12 indicators are positive, while 12 are moderate, and 10 are low and are mainly related to the enhancement of social inclusion. The evaluation exercise may be useful to disentangling the multiple outcomes generated by initiatives based on social innovation, which are highly based on intangible assets, and exert a positive effect on the internal cohesion and the engagement of the civil society. Full article
15 pages, 1461 KiB  
Article
How to Foster Rural Sustainability through Farming Workforce Rejuvenation? Looking into Involuntary Newcomers’ Spatial (Im)mobilities
by Francisco Simões, Ilkay Unay-Gailhard, Alen Mujčinović and Bernardo Fernandes
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8517; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158517 - 30 Jul 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2075
Abstract
This conceptual paper aims to expand the notion of “farming newcomers” in Europe by also including those that we label “involuntary newcomers”, who correspond to the workforce coming unwillingly to farming for reasons associated with spatial (im)mobilities. We fully develop our aim in [...] Read more.
This conceptual paper aims to expand the notion of “farming newcomers” in Europe by also including those that we label “involuntary newcomers”, who correspond to the workforce coming unwillingly to farming for reasons associated with spatial (im)mobilities. We fully develop our aim in four steps. Firstly, we present an integrative literature review which describes how the interplay between the key concepts of the sustainable farming framework (i.e., sustained development, networked rural development, and spatial (im)mobilities) tailor the newcomers’ arrival to the farming sector. Secondly, we define involuntary newcomers, describe their profiles and list the barriers to their engagement with sustainable farming. Thirdly, we advance some implications and limitations of our work for mobility research agendas. Fourthly, we conclude with an overview of the main inputs provided by our paper. We contribute to the literature by showing that: (a) newcomers must be defined beyond land ownership; (b) involuntary newcomers are very diverse, due to trends in spatial (im)mobilities; and (c) there is a high risk of the sustainable farming framework failing to meet its ambitions if it continues to ignore involuntary newcomers (and the barriers they encounter) in sustainable forms of agriculture. Full article
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15 pages, 804 KiB  
Article
Is It Possible to Tackle Youth Needs with Agricultural and Rural Development Policies?
by Alen Mujčinović, Aleksandra Nikolić, Emelj Tuna, Ivana Janeska Stamenkovska, Vesela Radović, Paul Flynn and Veronica McCauley
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8410; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158410 - 28 Jul 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2344
Abstract
Rural youth are influenced by a wide range of uncertainties regarding their personal and professional development. Rural youth and in particular rural NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training) are especially vulnerable and face higher risks of labour market, social and economic exclusion. [...] Read more.
Rural youth are influenced by a wide range of uncertainties regarding their personal and professional development. Rural youth and in particular rural NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training) are especially vulnerable and face higher risks of labour market, social and economic exclusion. This paper aims to analyse the determinants of the dynamics of rural NEETs in three post-transitional countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia) compared to the EU-28 average and to Ireland as an example of an established EU member state with over 50% of its population living in rural areas that can act as a benchmark for effective policy implementation to address challenges of marginalized youth, during the 2009–2019 period. The dynamics of rural NEET status and the efficiency/adaptability of regional development policies are revealed through analysis of macro and socioeconomic factors as well as specific employment-related indicators disaggregated by gender and degree of urbanisation. The comparative analysis indicates deficiencies in regional development policies among post-transitional countries and the potential to adapt modern European practices and policies for improving the rural NEETs’ position. Full article
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20 pages, 3752 KiB  
Article
There Is No Place like Home! How Willing Are Young Adults to Move to Find a Job?
by Julia Weiss, Livio Ferrante and Mariano Soler-Porta
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7494; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13137494 - 05 Jul 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2429
Abstract
The European Union (EU) has undergone significant economic crises in recent years. Therein, young people were amongst the hardest hit groups, with youth unemployment rising as high as 50% in some member states. Particularly high rates of youth unemployment were often observed in [...] Read more.
The European Union (EU) has undergone significant economic crises in recent years. Therein, young people were amongst the hardest hit groups, with youth unemployment rising as high as 50% in some member states. Particularly high rates of youth unemployment were often observed in rural areas, where labour market supply in relation to demand were notably divergent. One of the core pillars of the EU’s agenda is to tackle the persistent problem of youth unemployment. Since the recent crisis, this has been via the “Youth on the Move” initiative, which involves the promotion of intra- and international mobility of young adults in order to gain access to job opportunities. However, what has received little attention so far is the question of what the general willingness of young adults to move is like, and to what extent this varies, for example, depending upon the area they live in. This paper therefore asks if rural youth differ from youth in urban areas in relation to their willingness to move for a job within their country or to another country. Moreover, what influences the general willingness to be mobile? Based on the Cultural Pathways to Economic Self-Sufficiency and Entrepreneurship (CUPESSE) Survey, which includes data on 18–35-year-olds in a sample of 11 European countries, it is shown that living in a rural area is strongly associated with the willingness to move. Furthermore, it shows that rural youth are more willing to move within the country but less willing to move to another country. Based on the presentation of the various factors, which promote or curb mobility readiness, the results make it clear that the success of EU initiatives depends on the preferences and willingness of the target group in question. Full article
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17 pages, 271 KiB  
Article
The Ideal Type of Innovative School That Promotes Sustainability: The Case of Rural Communities in Catalonia
by Jordi Feu Gelis and Albert Torrent Font
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 5875; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13115875 - 24 May 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2521
Abstract
In Spain, the evolution of rural areas has followed very different paths depending on the area. While some areas have experienced a continuous demographic decline, others, like Catalonia, have followed the opposite trend thanks to internal and, to a lesser extent external, immigration. [...] Read more.
In Spain, the evolution of rural areas has followed very different paths depending on the area. While some areas have experienced a continuous demographic decline, others, like Catalonia, have followed the opposite trend thanks to internal and, to a lesser extent external, immigration. This article presents a detailed and original study of the evolution of the population in rural areas during the period 1979–2005, explaining the main reasons for this migration process and later establishing that schools act as an important pole of attraction for young couples with a high degree of cultural diversity. It presents an innovative and inclusive school model that ensures educational success of all the children and respects the cultural idiosyncrasy of the students and families. The three objectives mentioned correspond to three consecutive research projects, each of which provides complementary information to the previous one and all of which shed light on the relationship between demographic revival, cultural diversity and inclusive rural schools. They also pay special attention to factors that make this revival possible. The first objective, approached from a qualitative perspective, shows that, in contrast to the most alarmist theses, there was demographic growth between 1975 and 2005, which was especially notable between 2000 and 2005. The second objective, approached from a qualitative perspective, explains that while young couples emigrate to rural areas for diverse reasons, these reasons can be organized into subjective and structural factors, the school being one of the most important. The third objective, based on a case study of six “alternative” rural schools, proposes an ideal type of school based on the most radical innovative and inclusive principles. This article provides a detailed analysis of demographic evolution in rural Catalonia during a period in which we lacked data, and it expands the sociological factors explained until now regarding contemporary emigration to rural areas. Finally, from a socio-educational perspective, it provides complementary knowledge with regards to rural schools, analyzing the characteristics of “alternative” rural schools and presenting a school prototype that aims to be radically innovative and inclusive. Full article
12 pages, 577 KiB  
Article
Time to Get Emotional: Determinants of University Students’ Intention to Return to Rural Areas
by Francisco Simões, Antonella Rocca, Rui Rocha, Carlos Mateus, Elena Marta and Jale Tosun
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5135; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095135 - 04 May 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 3113
Abstract
The social sustainability of rural areas is affected by the phenomenon of “brain drain” due to younger generations’ outward migration. Our study examines how structural and subjective factors determine the returning intentions of university students over time, before completion of their studies. We [...] Read more.
The social sustainability of rural areas is affected by the phenomenon of “brain drain” due to younger generations’ outward migration. Our study examines how structural and subjective factors determine the returning intentions of university students over time, before completion of their studies. We conducted a longitudinal, 3-wave survey between 2018 and 2020, involving 349 students (Mean age = 21.89; 63.04% women) and originating from a rural, remote region of Portugal. Using a Tobit panel model approach for data analysis, we found that participants whose mothers had a university degree, who expected higher income 3 years after studies completion, and who were more attached to the place where they were studying were less inclined to return to their native rural area. Conversely, those who were more attached to their rural origins were more likely to show an increased interest in returning over time. Our findings show that university students originating from rural areas and their returning intentions are affected by both structural and subjective factors, in a context of increasing individualisation of mobility intentions and decision making. Consequently, decision makers must start to include the sustained promotion of youths’ emotional bonds to rural areas as a vector of education policy packages in order to combat rural brain drain. Full article
15 pages, 284 KiB  
Article
Inclusive Settlement of Young Asylum Seekers in a Rural Region: The Role of Informal Support and Mentoring
by Xavier Alarcón, Xavier Casademont, Vladislava Lendzhova and Emre Erdoğan
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5132; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095132 - 04 May 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2434
Abstract
In the last ten years, the settlement and integration of refugee families and asylum seekers have represented some of the main challenges faced by European territories. People in need of international protection can face challenges in being settled and integrated into rural areas [...] Read more.
In the last ten years, the settlement and integration of refugee families and asylum seekers have represented some of the main challenges faced by European territories. People in need of international protection can face challenges in being settled and integrated into rural areas where it is often difficult to find co-ethnic support networks. This case study provides relevant data on how the settlement of young asylum seekers is carried out in the main town of a rural area in Catalunya. It explores the impact of a mentoring programme which consists of providing informal support to newcomers in language acquisition (Catalan), as well as inclusion in the job market and social capital. We interviewed almost all participants of that programme in this rural area, gathering in-depth interviews with mentees (with eight young asylum seekers) and two discussion groups with their mentors (living in the main town of the region). Our findings showed that whereas the main objectives of the programme are providing linguistic support, social capital and inclusion to the job market, mentoring is more focused on providing emotional support and cultivating a sense of belonging. Various outcomes will be discussed which consider the types of support that were present in mentoring relationships and how bonding and bridging social capital were fostered, namely the elements that can promote a more inclusive and welcoming rural community. Full article

Other

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15 pages, 968 KiB  
Systematic Review
Youth Participation in Agriculture: A Scoping Review
by Wendy Geza, Mjabuliseni Ngidi, Temitope Ojo, Adetoso Adebiyi Adetoro, Rob Slotow and Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9120; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169120 - 14 Aug 2021
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 17200
Abstract
Providing economic opportunities for youth in agriculture is essential to securing the future of agriculture in Africa, addressing poverty, unemployment, and inequality. However, barriers limit youth participation in agriculture and the broader food system. This scoping review aimed to investigate the opportunities and [...] Read more.
Providing economic opportunities for youth in agriculture is essential to securing the future of agriculture in Africa, addressing poverty, unemployment, and inequality. However, barriers limit youth participation in agriculture and the broader food system. This scoping review aimed to investigate the opportunities and challenges for youth in participating in agriculture and the food system in Africa. This review conducted a scoping review using the PRISMA guideline. Published studies were retrieved from online databases (Web of Science, Cab Direct, and Science Direct) for 2009 to 2019. The findings showed that existing agricultural interventions are production-centric and provide low-income earnings and inadequate social protection. We also found that the youth have pessimistic perceptions about agriculture’s capability of improving their living standards. This could be ascribed to the minimal youth involvement in agricultural activities and the youth’s shared understanding of the agricultural sector’s contribution to general economic growth. From a policy perspective, the literature revealed that current agricultural development programs do not adequately address structural issues underpinning youth participation in the economy. Therefore, to enhance the involvement of youths in agriculture, there is a need for policy implementation in the area of integrated agricultural-based interventions that are context-specific and promote meaningful youth participation in shaping future food systems. Full article
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