Special Issue “Lessons on Building More Sustainable Rural Societies: Youth and Mobility”

Special Issue “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“.

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.


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


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

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 […]
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

A Conceptual Framework for the Evaluation of Social Agriculture: An Application to a Project Aimed at the Employability of Young People NEET (Antonio Baselice, Maurizio Prosperi, Antonio Lopolito)
Sustainability 202113(15), 8608; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158608 – 02 Aug 2021

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,

How to Foster Rural Sustainability through Farming Workforce Rejuvenation? Looking into Involuntary Newcomers’ Spatial (Im)mobilities (Francisco Simões, Ilkay Unay-Gailhard, Alen Mujčinović, Bernardo Fernandes)
Sustainability 202113(15), 8517; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158517 – 30 Jul 2021

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

Is It Possible to Tackle Youth Needs with Agricultural and Rural Development Policies? (Alen Mujčinović, Aleksandra Nikolić, Emelj Tuna, Ivana Janeska Stamenkovska, Vesela Radović, Paul Flynn, Veronica McCauley)
Sustainability 202113(15), 8410; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158410 – 28 Jul 2021

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.

There Is No Place like Home! How Willing Are Young Adults to Move to Find a Job? (Julia Weiss, Livio Ferrante, Mariano Soler-Porta)
Sustainability 202113(13), 7494; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13137494 – 05 Jul 2021

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

The Ideal Type of Innovative School That Promotes Sustainability: The Case of Rural Communities in Catalonia (Jordi Feu Gelis, Albert Torrent Font)
Sustainability 202113(11), 5875; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13115875 – 24 May 2021

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.

Time to Get Emotional: Determinants of University Students’ Intention to Return to Rural Areas (Francisco Simões, Antonella Rocca, Rui Rocha, Carlos Mateus, Elena Marta, Jale Tosun)
Sustainability 202113(9), 5135; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095135 – 04 May 2021

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.

Inclusive Settlement of Young Asylum Seekers in a Rural Region: The Role of Informal Support and Mentoring (Xavier Alarcón, Xavier Casademont, Vladislava Lendzhova, Emre Erdoğan)
Sustainability 202113(9), 5132; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095132 – 04 May 2021

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

Sustainability 202113(16), 9120; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169120 – 14 Aug 2021

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


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