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Refugees and Rural Poverty

Urbanization is understandably a central theme for development experts and policymakers, but they should not lose sight of the dramatic changes happening in the places people leave behind when they seek better livelihoods elsewhere. Rural areas deserve attention, too, because many of the world’s displaced people originate there.

ROME – Development experts and policymakers understandably focus on migration to urban areas and the need for sustainable urbanization. But they should not lose sight of the dramatic changes happening in rural areas, which are too often ignored.

While the growing demand for food – driven by rising population and incomes – is creating opportunities for rural people, hunger and poverty remain concentrated in rural parts of developing countries. Unless rural development receives more attention, young people will continue to abandon agriculture and rural areas in search of better livelihoods in cities or abroad.

Last year at the United Nations General Assembly, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include a commitment to “leave no one behind.” And, with the number of forcibly displaced people reaching all-time highs this year, the UN will hold a summit on September 19 to discuss the problem.

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