A TALE OF TWO IRELANDS Why it's time to look forward - not back
Every country tries to resist moving from a rural to an urban economy. We're no different, but we can have a say in shaping our future, writes Conor Skehan
Over the years, my work with the UN has taken me to some of the world's poorer places. No matter where I go, I hear the same story in rural areas.
"All of the young people are leaving our villages. A lot of the farms are abandoned now - the farmers are getting too old and there are no young people to take over. Half of the houses are empty. We have no shop or bus service any more. The place is only lively now at festivals when they all come back from the city. Why can't it be like that all year round? Why can't things be like they used to be?"
I hear this story in small, poor countries such as Nepal, Afghanistan or Sri Lanka - but I also hear it in the wealthy, powerful countries such as China and the US.