“Young people need to be protagonists in rural development processes”

Intervention of Marcelino Marcos Líndez, President of the General Assembly of the Principality of Asturias

Good morning, everyone;

For many years ago the countryside was seen as an exotic place that waited silently and that was punctually used as a refuge for the inhabitants of the cities that escaped to breathe and in search of relaxation. While to work was seen as a difficult place, as the countryside of the time of our grandparents (work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and also with many discomforts).

Today that perception is changing, and we are beginning to see a rural area with other potentialities, a place where you can live in a comfortable way, with alternative jobs, in a more pleasant space than the urban and with quality of life.

This possibility that exists, which is real, must be encouraged and enhanced from all spheres, whether public or private. It is necessary to develop transversal policies that generate economic activity, support business initiatives and guarantee infrastructures, services and new technologies in rural areas.

This last aspect is very important because it will favour work from anywhere and will allow new forms of life that are more flexible and more mobile.

From this perspective, the countryside is presented as a new scenario where an infinite number of professional activities can be developed.                                                                                                             

“There is a rural area with other potentialities, in which one can live in a comfortable way, with alternative works, in a more pleasant space than the urban one and with quality of life”

It seems therefore evident that the current perception of the rural environment is more positive than a few years ago, however, there are still many challenges to face and many changes to activate. And now, more than ever, the possibility of change is in you, it is in the young people. As long as the rest of society properly recognizes your contribution and your human potential.

On the importance of youth in rural development, numerous recommendations have already been made in various global forums. For example, Principle 21 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development states: “The creativity, ideals and courage of the world’s youth should be mobilized to forge a global partnership to achieve sustainable development and ensure a better future for all”.

Someone, on the other hand, spoke of youth in these terms: “illusion, work, expectations; interest in knowing, improving, sharing, enjoying; in short, desire to live. All these concepts common to the human condition in all its phases, have a greater plus among young people; it is the law of life”.

It is for this reason that youth is and must be an essential pillar and fundamental target group of the maintenance of the social, cultural and economic life of the rural milieu.

This is why it is necessary for young people to be protagonists in rural development processes, to overcome the invisibility to which they have been subjected and to take advantage of their ideas, their talent and their energy, for their own benefit and that of their communities and countries. An approach that becomes more relevant with the advances of the technological revolution, for which knowledge, skills and information are needed, about which young people have greater capacity to assimilate.

This is why you are an important, I would say even more so, an essential part of rural development plans.

After all, rural development is what is being talked about these days in Candás; and if development is a dynamic process (within the rural area in this case) that leads, after various changes, to the improvement of people’s future lives; if the word “development” has, therefore, connotations of the future; and if young people, there is no doubt about this, they are the future. So, almost as if it were a syllogism, we can conclude that young people must be involved in rural development policies.

“La percepción actual del medio rural resulta más positiva que hace unos cuantos años, sin embargo, aún quedan muchos retos que afrontar y muchos cambios que activar”

And how can they do that?

1) Reflecting on what their role might be in the rural area they inhabit and what they want it to be.

2º) Knowing the real needs of rural youth, in order to create employment programs, training, etc. that adjust to their needs.

3º) Creating processes of participation because through that participation they will contribute to create a new social reality, in such a way that they feel protagonists and fundamental pieces in the impulse of the development of their zone. In this way they will be an active part of the process of organising and programming proposals that will later have to be incorporated and integrated into regional, state and European policies.

And 4º) Offering real and compelling reasons for them to decide to stay in the rural environment, so that they feel interest and perceive a promising future in this field.

This is why initiatives such as the one developed here in Candás these days are fundamental, initiatives such as the European Rural Youth Parliament.

So, my congratulations and sincere congratulations to the organizers of this event, the Government of the Principality of Asturias, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Ministry for Ecological Transition and especially the Asturian Network of Rural Development (READER) as well as the entire municipality of Carreño, Candás in particular, and its mayoress, excellent hosts.

Thanks to all the participants in this 2nd Young European Rural Parliament; I am sure that very positive conclusions for a sustainable rural development emerged from here.

To the young people also tell you that yours is the future, that we are in your hands and that we trust you.

It has been an honour for me to participate in the closing of the 2nd European Rural Youth Parliament.

 Thank you

The European Rural Parliament (ERP) is a long-term campaign that expresses the voice of people in rural Europe and promotes self-help and action by rural people, in partnership with civil society and governments. The ERP Youth movement serves as a platform for young people to ENGAGE in the rural development process, to CONNECT organisations and professionals across Europe and to EMPOWER advocating their needs to multi-level stakeholders.