Rural Youth

Young people are key agents of change, with enormous innovation potential. Working for and with young people and investing in their empowerment is key for prosperous societies and overall inclusive rural transformation.

The growing youth population has enormous potential and is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Yet, youth face many hurdles in trying to earn a livelihood and access decent jobs in agrifood systems.

Young people often face both the challenges of age-specific disadvantages combined with those of the underdevelopment of rural areas.

In many developing countries, young people’s access to quality education and training is often limited; in other cases, education and training systems tend to operate in isolation from the labour market. There are also constraints related to youth’s access to land, natural resources, finance, technology, knowledge and information, with insufficient opportunities for participation in policy and strategic dialogues. All of these factors make it difficult for young people to seize opportunities to improve their lives and contribute to the rural economy.

Furthermore, unequal gender relationships and traditional gender roles entail specific additional difficulties for rural young women.
It is also worth noting that specific rural minorities and vulnerable groups, such as Indigenous youth, youth with disabilities, young migrants, young refugees and others, may face additional challenges and possibly marginalization.

FAO response

A central principle of the 2030 Agenda is the assurance that “no one will be left behind” and the universal nature of the 2030 Agenda entails that young people should be considered across all Goals and targets.
FAO has identified ‘’youth’’ as an important group whose needs must be addressed across all of the Organization’s programmatic work so to promote a more systematic mainstreaming and operationalization across all of FAO’s work.

The Organization recognizes that youth are already at the frontline to build more sustainable agrifood systems and are best placed to rejuvenate the sector, acquire the knowledge and skills needed to innovate, uptake new technologies, and spearhead the digital transformation.

FAO provides support to countries to develop more youth-inclusive policies, strategies, investments and programmes, in order to enhance the overall wellbeing of young women and men. Through dedicated programmes and activities, the Organization:

  • Supports youth participation in rural transformation, including by fostering safe spaces for youth engagement in policy dialogues.
  • Fosters youth employment in an inclusive green economy, through policy assistance, awareness raising, youth-sensitive approaches and evidence generation.
  • Strengthens rural youth capacities for the use of innovative approaches and technologies in food systems.
  • Promotes rural services for youth and young agripreneurs, including via capacity development and facilitated access to inputs, land, financial schemes and markets.
  • Strengthens young people’s resilience in fragile contexts and supports them as key agents of peace by creating spaces where they can express their challenges and needs in a constructive and participatory manner.