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A Reason to Stay: Strategies to Combat Out-Migration of Youth in Rural Mexico’s Sustainable Forest Communities

Sustainable management is a critical tool for protecting global forests and improving local livelihoods. However, in many rural communities, such as those in Calakmul, Mexico, a dearth of employment opportunities often leads youth to seek work in other areas.

Such out-migration leaves rural regions without the leadership, innovation, education, and ambition of their best and brightest young residents. Without this able generation, communities lack the hands to work the land, care for the young and old, and keep the local economy running. Furthermore, the region’s natural resources suffer from environmental degradation. Fewer young, able bodies often result in shorter fallow periods, decreased crop diversity, and increased susceptibility to poor land management.

In this report, we outline how the Rainforest Alliance is preparing youth in Calakmul, Mexico, for a meaningful and financially viable future within their communities. By building capacity for leadership opportunities, increased civic engagement, and education on the local environment, we can help youth become more personally invested in their communities and in creating a future there.

This intervention involves:

  • Building life and leadership skills
  • Building a scientific foundation
  • Practice in the field
  • Experiential learning and meeting experts
  • Making connections and gaining practical experience

Through a partnership with the Rainforest Alliance, the youth of Calakmul are deepening their connection to their community, ecosystem, and cultural heritage which in turn helps with improved self-worth and, ultimately, community cohesion. Our work helps these young people gain a greater desire to stay and create a better—more sustainable—future for their community.

Ramon nut, a sustainable superfood - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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