Rural and land abandonment have been a long standing discussion for many years now, and it is in fact one of the current issues needed to be addressed laid out by the European Taxonomy.
The problems arising from this particular issue are of very diverse nature, from environmental and climate change consequences, to cultural and social erosion matters that are currently global primary risks.
The effects of the growing land abandonment and depopulation are a matter of concern for all, and there might be key actors to help mitigate the latter that we might have ignored for too long. In the following paragraphs we will analyze the ongoing abandonment crisis, what it entails and what could be done to alleviate the consequences.
In almost half of the European Union member states, over 50% of agricultural areas present at least a moderate risk of abandonment before the year 2030. Remote areas and areas with specific territorial characteristics like mountains or islands are particularly vulnerable.
The reasons behind these dangerous trends are related to economic development, regional and institutional policies, socio-cultural factors, management issues or the lack of structural adaptation, among others. The complexity of all these elements makes it difficult to fully comprehend all of the causes inciting abandonment.
Additionally, the globalization of markets relies on supporting agricultural production solely in favorable locations, increasing average farm sizes but substantially affecting the number of farms, which inevitably leads to the abandonment of many agricultural areas.
However, the consequences of abandonment are significantly clearer, and although each region (in Europe specifically) is affected in a different way, it all eventually comes down to environmental and social degradation in urgent need for attention and solutions.
- Climate change: The climate change scenario anticipated in Europe includes the flooding of coastal areas, the drought and increasing forest fire risks in the south of the continent, increasing landslides, loss of fertile soil and additional natural hazards damaging crops. Although the abandonment of certain areas are thought to be beneficial for recovering biodiversity, both events need new and inciting policies to manage risks and opportunities efficiently.
- Cultural and social erosion: The lack of resources, the massive city exodus and the aging of the population is forcing younger people to leave areas that eventually suffer high abandonment rates. There are currently few incentives for young folks to return to their hometowns from the city. The loss of population at such rapid rates also causes the downfall of many cultural assets.
Companies could have the key to help mitigate abandonment consequences
There are many actions that need to be taken in order to manage land abandonment in Europe; it is a matter of climate action as much as it is a question of social well-being and cultural preservation. Policies on a national and regional level are key to avoid further deterioration of vulnerable areas, but there is an argument in favor of the role companies can play in helping mitigate these negative effects.
It must be noted that such an argument needs to be done along with an efficient technological and connectivity infrastructure, but the flexibility companies can offer through remote work or teleworking is a key element to help rural areas thrive again.
In the era of digitalization it has never been easier to offer flexible working conditions in which people can have the freedom and flexibility to find a balanced life between work and personal development. The benefits of such apply in many different ways, but it is particularly significant for those living in rural regions, as it is a powerful tool for climate action and long term sustainable social development.
A clear benefit of working remotely is that of choosing where you want to live and not being conditioned to be displaced because of a lack of opportunities. Centralization is a reality affecting most countries in Europe, concentrating most jobs in the same often cosmopolitan areas. Teleworking could mean more and better opportunities for many, finding a position appropriate to their capacities without sacrificing their social and personal environment. Of course, it is undeniably a compelling tool for conciliation of personal and professional life.
Remote work and the sustainability strategy
Managing corporate activities to have a positive impact on the planet and society is the backbone of any social responsibility and sustainability strategy of a company. This includes the well-being of employees and helping encourage their professional development as much as their personal one.
Offering flexibility and creating awareness of the most current social and environmental risks are a combination of factors that could encourage the improvement of today’s ongoing abandonment. On the other hand, it could also mean a bigger scope of talent and diversity available for companies.
In DoGood we believe good corporate governance is the key to managing the very diverse and complex scenarios that we face as a global society today, from environmental degradation to social decaying. In this regard, we work to promote compliance with processes of disclosure and transparency so as to provide regulators and shareholders as well as the general public with precise and accurate information about the financial, operational and other aspects of the company, including a more accurate definition of the ESG performance.
We have developed a corporate government tool that helps establish ESG impact objectives for employees in regards to the sustainability strategy of the company. Through our technology we are able to activate and track employees’ impact, creating engagement that translates into improved ESG metrics, reputational value and an overall positive impact for the environment and society.
If you want to know more about how we work to create a positive social and environmental impact, click here.