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Involving youth in restoration and conservation

Local people travel on "peque peque" in Cashiboya, Loreto Province, Peru. Photo by M. del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR
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FTA communications

During the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn, Germany, in December 2018, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) spoke with Vania Olmos Lau, a biologist, youth representative for the GLF, and youth representative for the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL).

At the GLF, Olmos Lau was part of the panel titled, “Delivery of quality and diverse planting material is a major constraint for restoration: What solutions, what emerging needs?”, hosted by FTA with Bioversity InternationalWorld Agroforestry (ICRAF), and supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

During the session, Olmos Lau emphasized that achieving the Bonn Challenge is also important to youth. She cited as examples a lack of knowledge and access to seeds in Paraguay, as well as bureaucratic hurdles in Mexico, as existing barriers to restoration.

Read our interview with Vania Olmos Lau here, edited for length and clarity.

What practical actions can young people take to protect forests and trees?

Vegetable field in Gunung Simpang, West Java, Indonesia. Photo by Y. Indriatmoko/CIFOR

First of all, it is important that the people that care about this, that already have experience, and that already have a good institutional base, approach the young people that are interested, have the enthusiasm, and have the will.

These young people know that the protection of forests and trees is important, but they might not know all the details. In this case, people with experience can help young people focus their efforts correctly, on things like restoration.

Read also: Using forests to support wellness

How can we strengthen the capacity of local communities if younger generations lack interest and knowledge is centered on older generations?

It needs to be done in a fun way. Youth everywhere have so many distractions. With the Internet we see all these cool things happening in the cities, and not in rural areas. We need to find a way to make the integration between generations fun. And to make agriculture, and nature, fun for everyone – something that is attractive, and something that people want to do.

What I’ve actually learned from the older people in my family is that we need to change and that a lot of these changes aren’t happening because we just don’t have the will, and because we have very internally ingrained habits. The new generation is paying attention to this and this is changing, but there’s a lot of resistance from the older generation to make these changes.

How can we move from restoration pledges toward restoration action?

A handful of shelled Brazil nuts, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru. Photo by M. Simola/CIFOR

It’s very important to use local species, because what I’ve seen in the field a lot is that when you introduce species that might be regionally local, but not adapted to a specific site – and this can happen a lot in mountainous regions where soil and climate can change quite quickly – these relatively exotic plants die a lot.

At least in the case of Mexico, where we’ve had experience, local communities notice that the plants that other institutions bring have a higher mortality rate. And when they start experimenting with the seeds from local trees, they have a much higher survival rate.

What role can seed systems play?

In Mexico, there is a lot of exchange of seeds. Traditionally, communities have done this for a very long time. That’s why we are the center of origin for so many important agricultural species, especially corn. Corn is relevant for all the world, and it’s very important to support communities to continue to do this and ensure that they are not influenced by the seeds that are provided by the government and external companies, which, in many instances, can have a greater yield but at the cost of losing diversity. And as we know, with climate change, and with all these changes that we have to adapt to, having diversity is super important.

Read also: The right species for the right purpose

How can economic incentives support communities to restore and conserve forests?

Economic incentives should be focused first and foremost on conservation, through, for example, payment for ecosystem services. After the conservation of existing natural ecosystems is guaranteed, then economic incentives can focus on restoration.

Restoration is an opportunity to give youth and young people a chance to have a good job that means something and that is economically viable for them. In this regard there’s a lot of opportunity to involve youth.

When I was doing my thesis in Paraguay, for example, I compared how different land uses interact, and one of the land uses was a restoration project. It was interesting to see that the farmers were interested in restoration, and in trees, because wood was becoming very expensive in the region. They would therefore want forest on their land for their cattle.

This was very interesting because cattle, as we know, is a very important deforestation driver, but in this case, it was a reason to keep some forest on their land. It’s very important that we see this, and see how different land uses compete, or have synergies.

By the FTA communications team. 


The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, ICRAF, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Gendered aspirations and occupations among rural youth, in agriculture and beyond: A cross-regional perspective

Gendered aspirations and occupations among rural youth, in agriculture and beyond: A cross-regional perspective

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Based on 25 case studies from the global comparative study ‘GENNOVATE: Enabling gender equality in agricultural and environmental innovation’, this paper explores rural young women’s and men’s occupational aspirations and trajectories in India, Mali, Malawi, Morocco, Mexico, Nigeria, and the Philippines. We draw upon qualitative data from 50 sex-segregated focus groups with the youth to show that across the study’s regional contexts, young rural women and men predominantly aspire for formal blue and white-collar jobs. Yet, they experience an aspiration- achievement gap, as the promise of their education for securing the formal employment they seek is unfulfilled, and they continue to farm in their family’s production. Whereas some young men aspired to engage in knowledge-intensive or ‘modern’ agriculture, young women did not express any such interest. Framing our analysis within a relational approach, we contend that various gender norms that discriminate against women in agriculture dissuade young women from aspiring for agriculture-related occupation. We discuss the gendered opportunity spaces of the study sites, the meanings these hold for allowing young women and men to achieve their aspirations and catalyze agricultural innovation, and implications for agricultural policies and research for development. Our findings show that youth and gender issues are inextricably intertwined and cannot be understood in isolation one from the other.

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  • Diverse and invisible: Understanding rural young people

Diverse and invisible: Understanding rural young people

A young woman displays a product at a food fair in Luwingu, Zambia. Photo by J. Nkadaani/CIFOR
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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A young woman displays a product at a food fair in Luwingu, Zambia. Photo by J. Nkadaani/CIFOR

Globally, there are an estimated 1.8 billion young people between 10 to 24 years old. Of these, approximately 90 percent live in the developing world, and mostly in rural areas. Yet often, rural young people are poorly understood in research compared to more ‘visible’ groups, such as urban youth, particularly in Western countries. 

This is of special concern to research partnerships such as CGIAR, because young people play critical roles in rural households and environmental transformations, but their interests are often inadequately addressed in programs and policies. However, as a significant social group now and in the future, their aspirations, dreams, opportunities and the particular challenges they face in rural areas deserve to be studied and understood in their own right.

Click here to listen to the webinar recording or download the presentation.  

That is one of the many reasons the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) recently presented a webinar on rural youth and livelihood change. The webinar, hosted by the CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research, invited four researchers and activists to share their thoughts on the challenges and prospects facing rural young women and men across the Global South.

FTA and the CGIAR gender platform hosted the hour-long webinar with key thinkers and practitioners working in youth and development studies in Latin America, Asia and Africa, to address key issues affecting today’s young people, as well as the role of institutions such as CGIAR in supporting the livelihoods of rural youth.

Children play in the La Roya community of the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by J. Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR

Rural young people’s challenges and opportunities 

Jim Sumberg, a Research Fellow in the Rural Futures research cluster at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), began by problematizing the idea of “the challenges and opportunities for rural young people.” He stressed the need to recognize the diversity within ‘youth’ based on gender, geography, and other factors of social differentiation, and the necessity of considering the specific social and political contexts where they live.

He highlighted the differences between the challenges that rural people face in general, because of, for example, systemic failures or structural issues; challenges that specifically affect rural young people primarily because they are young, have fewer resources, less life experience, and less developed networks, among other factors; and the challenges that affect young people because they are discriminated against or ‘invisible’ to other social groups and decision-makers.

For example, webinar panelist Daniela Rivas, the Peruvian country representative of Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), explained that in Peru, young people make up 27 percent of the total population, and 22 percent of the population is specifically composed of rural youth. However, government policy focuses on urban youth. This demonstrates how many indigenous and rural young people face challenges in simply having their voices heard, and therefore remain invisible to rural development initiatives.

Though many rural young men and women face challenges, they also have new opportunities. Jessica Clendenning, a PhD Candidate in Human Geography with the National University of Singapore, explained that as urban centers across the Global South continue to expand, the shape and nature of rural areas also change. New opportunities in rural and urban areas pertaining to forests and agricultural production, marketing and value chains are some such opportunities.

Critical, then, is that young people have access to education and training to gain the skills needed to capitalize on those opportunities, and to enable young people to pursue the types of work that interest them besides primary production.

Read more: Webinar: Rural youth and livelihood change

High school students pose pose in Empangao village, Indonesia. Photo by L. McHugh/CIFOR

Role of CGIAR

What roles can CGIAR and FTA play in researching and working with rural youth? Fraser Sugden, a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham, and outgoing coordinator of the Gender, Youth and Inclusion theme in the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land, and Ecosystems (WLE), suggested that the CGIAR research community could play an important role in engaging with youth on the ground.

This does not necessarily mean encouraging young people to be farmers, but providing them with opportunities in agrobased enterprises and agricultural support services and investments, such as through extension services, research and investment in young agroentrepreneurs.

More broadly, Clendenning explained that CGIAR can use its research and action to address the large knowledge gaps surrounding youth issues in tree and agroforestry environments. For example, little is known about the effects that rural economic diversification, via remittances and migration, has on labor and changing land use dynamics, or about whether, why or when young migrants actually do return to live and work in their natal village areas.

The interests rural young women and men have in the forestry or agroforestry sectors, and the types of related schooling that is offered to them, also require attention. These questions demonstrate that longer term studies are needed to understand rural young men and women, and the ways they are embedded within their families, communities and broader social contexts.

The main takeaway message was the need for CGIAR and partners to see young women and men as a diverse social group that faces different challenges and opportunities. Research methods must recognize their particular experiences, and the intersecting factors of social difference, such as gender, class and ethnicity, all of which influence and shape their choices.

This means integrating young people into program design and development, and researching with young women and men, instead of simply about them.

By Manon Koningstein, FTA Gender Integration Team; Marlène Elias, FTA Gender Research Coordinator; and Jessica Clendenning, PhD candidate. 


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

  • Home
  • Diverse and invisible: Understanding rural young people

Diverse and invisible: Understanding rural young people

A young woman displays a product at a food fair in Luwingu, Zambia. Photo by J. Nkadaani/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A young woman displays a product at a food fair in Luwingu, Zambia. Photo by J. Nkadaani/CIFOR

Globally, there are an estimated 1.8 billion young people between 10 to 24 years old. Of these, approximately 90 percent live in the developing world, and mostly in rural areas. Yet often, rural young people are poorly understood in research compared to more ‘visible’ groups, such as urban youth, particularly in Western countries. 

This is of special concern to research partnerships such as CGIAR, because young people play critical roles in rural households and environmental transformations, but their interests are often inadequately addressed in programs and policies. However, as a significant social group now and in the future, their aspirations, dreams, opportunities and the particular challenges they face in rural areas deserve to be studied and understood in their own right.

Click here to listen to the webinar recording or download the presentation.  

That is one of the many reasons the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) recently presented a webinar on rural youth and livelihood change. The webinar, hosted by the CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research, invited four researchers and activists to share their thoughts on the challenges and prospects facing rural young women and men across the Global South.

FTA and the CGIAR gender platform hosted the hour-long webinar with key thinkers and practitioners working in youth and development studies in Latin America, Asia and Africa, to address key issues affecting today’s young people, as well as the role of institutions such as CGIAR in supporting the livelihoods of rural youth.

Children play in the La Roya community of the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by J. Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR

Rural young people’s challenges and opportunities 

Jim Sumberg, a Research Fellow in the Rural Futures research cluster at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), began by problematizing the idea of “the challenges and opportunities for rural young people.” He stressed the need to recognize the diversity within ‘youth’ based on gender, geography, and other factors of social differentiation, and the necessity of considering the specific social and political contexts where they live.

He highlighted the differences between the challenges that rural people face in general, because of, for example, systemic failures or structural issues; challenges that specifically affect rural young people primarily because they are young, have fewer resources, less life experience, and less developed networks, among other factors; and the challenges that affect young people because they are discriminated against or ‘invisible’ to other social groups and decision-makers.

For example, webinar panelist Daniela Rivas, the Peruvian country representative of Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), explained that in Peru, young people make up 27 percent of the total population, and 22 percent of the population is specifically composed of rural youth. However, government policy focuses on urban youth. This demonstrates how many indigenous and rural young people face challenges in simply having their voices heard, and therefore remain invisible to rural development initiatives.

Though many rural young men and women face challenges, they also have new opportunities. Jessica Clendenning, a PhD Candidate in Human Geography with the National University of Singapore, explained that as urban centers across the Global South continue to expand, the shape and nature of rural areas also change. New opportunities in rural and urban areas pertaining to forests and agricultural production, marketing and value chains are some such opportunities.

Critical, then, is that young people have access to education and training to gain the skills needed to capitalize on those opportunities, and to enable young people to pursue the types of work that interest them besides primary production.

Read more: Webinar: Rural youth and livelihood change

High school students pose pose in Empangao village, Indonesia. Photo by L. McHugh/CIFOR

Role of CGIAR

What roles can CGIAR and FTA play in researching and working with rural youth? Fraser Sugden, a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham, and outgoing coordinator of the Gender, Youth and Inclusion theme in the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land, and Ecosystems (WLE), suggested that the CGIAR research community could play an important role in engaging with youth on the ground.

This does not necessarily mean encouraging young people to be farmers, but providing them with opportunities in agrobased enterprises and agricultural support services and investments, such as through extension services, research and investment in young agroentrepreneurs.

More broadly, Clendenning explained that CGIAR can use its research and action to address the large knowledge gaps surrounding youth issues in tree and agroforestry environments. For example, little is known about the effects that rural economic diversification, via remittances and migration, has on labor and changing land use dynamics, or about whether, why or when young migrants actually do return to live and work in their natal village areas.

The interests rural young women and men have in the forestry or agroforestry sectors, and the types of related schooling that is offered to them, also require attention. These questions demonstrate that longer term studies are needed to understand rural young men and women, and the ways they are embedded within their families, communities and broader social contexts.

The main takeaway message was the need for CGIAR and partners to see young women and men as a diverse social group that faces different challenges and opportunities. Research methods must recognize their particular experiences, and the intersecting factors of social difference, such as gender, class and ethnicity, all of which influence and shape their choices.

This means integrating young people into program design and development, and researching with young women and men, instead of simply about them.

By Manon Koningstein, FTA Gender Integration Team; Marlène Elias, FTA Gender Research Coordinator; and Jessica Clendenning, PhD candidate. 


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • Gender equality and social inclusion

Gender equality and social inclusion

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

An estimated 1.6 billion people worldwide depend in various ways and to different degrees on forests, trees and agroforestry for their livelihoods. Forests, trees and agroforestry have the potential to address many sustainable development challenges. Achieving this potential, providing appropriate solutions and leveraging opportunities requires understanding the complex roles of gender and other factors of social differentiation, such as age, in shaping livelihood and resource management decisions, governance, and the distribution of benefits from tree-based systems. This is why gender and social analyses are embedded into each domain of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

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  • Finding my way – reflections on my Youth in Landscapes experience

Finding my way – reflections on my Youth in Landscapes experience

Youth Session: Enter the dragons’ den – Youth to pitch ideas for sustainable landscapes at GLF 2015 in Paris. Photo: Pilar Valbuena
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FTA

Youth Session: Enter the dragons’ den – Youth to pitch ideas for sustainable landscapes at GLF 2015 in Paris. Photo: Pilar Valbuena
Youth Session: Enter the dragons’ den – Youth to pitch ideas for sustainable landscapes at GLF 2015 in Paris. Photo: Pilar Valbuena

By Praiya Uranukul, originally published at landscapes.org

It has been almost six months, yet my participation at Global Landscape Forum and the Youth in Landscapes Initiative mentoring program continues to inspire me – even now. The sheer scale of it – the number of passionate people enthusiastically debating options, of solutions being proposed and of the principle of the very forum – acted as a remarkable reminder that I was not alone in my hope and determination to make our world a more sustainable place, and a friendlier place to everyone. It has given me the strength I direly need.

Having Edward Millard, the Director of Strategic Partnerships, Rainforest Alliance, by my side as a mentor only made the experience even more invaluable. His calm demeanor, patience and in-depth knowledge about environmental issues, accumulated through decades of experience in the field, was what I immediately recognised as something I aspire towards.

I was yet to find a job, and was not even entirely sure which roles (of thousands of possibilities) I would like to actively take in the field of development and sustainability. Despite that, Edward has still been able to give me valuable guidance.

I am grateful for the opportunity to see how he approaches a problem, to see what an experienced environmental professional is like in person, and what kind of lifestyle they have created. It was then I actually recognized how little I know about this field, particularly about the prospective careers and how you can build your life around this passion.

I have always longed to make a difference, and Edward has helped me figure out the path I can take to achieve that very broad goal. We have been able to talk about our struggles, career development, and the job market at present. His insights made it a more valuable career consultation than the countless sessions I have had in my university years.

I have always felt like a loner fighting for an environmental issue. For the first time in a very long time, GLF and my mentor Edward helped me affirm my aspiration, my goal and my path. I am no longer lost.


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