Euromontana, European Association of Mountain Areas, has just released a new European report on mountain youth. Carried out with the support of Euromontana members and in collaboration with Educ’Alpes and our UNITA alliance, this study aims at better understanding the needs and the aspirations of mountain youth.
Reporting the voices of 1134 mountain young people (aged 18-29) from 18 EU and non-EU countries, this paper contributes to a very good start for the European Year of Youth (declared for 2022 by the European institutions).
Are mountain areas attractive for young people?
According to the report, at European level, the majority of young people (66%) are willing to live and work in a mountain area in the future. European mountains have strengths that are well recognised by young people, first and foremost the quality of life and the proximity to nature.
However, mountain areas still suffer from difficult access to education, employment and public transport. These barriers are clearly identified as major expectations for young people.
Commitment to sustainability
Young people also have plans to build the mountain of tomorrow, they want to participate in local life and bring their voices to the table. In their vision, the mountain in 2040 will be a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable territory. Young people imagine a mountain where the diversified economy has more jobs, where local life is boosted by the arrival of new inhabitants, especially young people, and where the environment is protected.
What must be developed in mountain areas?
- Encourage more wilderness (e.g. reforestation, limit human activities);
- More support to create personal business such as youth entrepreneurship programmes, young entrepreneur fairs, apprenticeships, micro-business projects;
- Lifelong education and vocational learning to upgrade skills and capacities and make them fit for a fast-changing world;
- Use digital solutions and social innovations to find adequate responses to specific needs (for instance to provide transport services or telemedicine);
- Promote more behavioral change through environmentally friendly initiatives such as sustainable transport or recycling systems;
- Encourage more initiatives to tackle climate change adaptation and mitigation;
- Support for more cultural services (cinema, theater, fairs, exhibitions, museums…);
- Support for more social activities for young people (associations, places to meet, leisure activities).
Strong disparities between countries and regions
Thanks to the Euromontana report we can see the results of the survey (launched by Euromontana in 2021) on a European scale. Nevertheless, depending on whether they live - in the Alps, in the Carpathians, in the Pyrenees - young people raised different challenges to make them into opportunities.
Romania, for example, records a high rate of young people interested in setting up a business in the mountains (44.7%) while Spain shows a particular attraction for so-called traditional mountain jobs (37%), such as farming, shepherding, working as ski instructors, etc.
In Italy and France, especially in the Alps, young people raised issues that were not mentioned in the case of the other countries. This is particularly the case for tourism and its consequences for the environment and local demography. In both countries, young people in the mountains deplore the impact of over-tourism on nature, but also on access to housing.
In terms of satisfaction, in Italy, only 54% of the young people surveyed were satisfied with the Internet access, compared to 75% at European level and 74% in Spain.
On the occasion of the European Year of Youth, through this report, Euromontana calls on policy makers to take up these messages and to take action in response to the demands of young people. European, national, regional and local decision-makers must work hand in hand to maintain the attractiveness of mountain territories in the future, also by improving access to education and employment and by pursuing greater sustainability.
Why did UNITA support Euromontana in this survey?
UNITA - Universitas Montium promotes and shares the same value and aims to create a better environment for people living and working in mountain regions through education, mobility and research.
Read Euromontana’s full report: Being young in a mountain area!
Euromontana will also report the messages of mountain youth during the discussions at the XII European Mountain Convention, on “Smart mountains: how to make our territories attractive and future-oriented?”, which will take place on 25-26-27 October 2022 in the Italian Natural Park and Biosphere Reserve of Sila.