The research study group (RSG) Southern and Mediterranean Europe: Social Change, Challenges and Opportunities, which includes several researchers of the ISO-RURAL network among its members, participated in the International Seminar “Human capital, wage labour and innovation in rural areas”, held in Athens, Greece, 23-24 October 2015.
The seminar, jointly organized by Harokopio University of Athens and Agricultural University of Athens, brought together academics, researchers and practitioners working on the development of rural areas. It was an interesting opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas over a number of relevant issues: the demographics and in/out migration of rural areas; the role of wage labour in agriculture and food production, the transformation of Local Food Systems, the quality of life the indigenous and migrant population in agricultural areas, the precarious status and labour rights of wage labour, the potential of human capital, and the innovation practices and policies implemented in rural areas, with a particular focus on southern European countries.
Professors Apostolos Papadopoulos and Charalambos Kasimis, members of the RSG introduced the seminar to the attendees. The members of the RSG Jesús Oliva, Mª Jesús Rivera and Fatma Nil Doner played an active role as presenters, chairs and participants in roundtable discussions. The meeting was a new opportunity for the members of the RSG to assemble and keep improving their network with rural researchers in southern and Mediterranean countries.
Twenty-one papers were presented in five sessions by researchers from Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey. Despite differences and particularities among countries, contributors showed common features in relation with the increasing importance of immigrant wage labour in certain agricultural sectors, the concern about the precariousness of working conditions in accordance with the requirements of a globalized agro-food markets, the need for a better understanding and management of rural-urban mobilities, and the innovative practices developed by farmers and rural dwellers to challenge the effects of the crisis.