9.6 Intercontinental youth work and development cooperation
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International youth work in Austria (Internationale Jugendarbeit in Österreich) includes cross-border exchanges and Erasmus+ programmes, which promote international encounters and cooperation for young people, youth workers and organisations. The main objective of intercontinental youth work cooperation in Austria is to promote intercultural understanding and cooperation on global challenges through youth-led activities.
The Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs has a Development Cooperation Strategy 2022-2024, which focuses on multilateral and bilateral partnerships internationally, with a special focus on young people and people with disabilities. The Austrian Development Agency (ADA) supports international cooperation projects, including projects related to youth work and in line with Austrian expertise. Detailed project information is available on the ADA website.
As the National Agency for Education and Internationalisation, the OeAD also supports cooperation in intercontinental youth work. Under Erasmus+ Youth (Erasmus+ Jugend), the OeAD funds mobility, participation and cooperation projects, including exchanges of youth groups and staff, and initiatives to promote youth participation in society and democracy. The specific programme 'Cooperation Partnerships' (Kooperationspartnerschaften) supports cooperation and exchanges in the youth sector between institutions from different programme countries, with the aim of improving the quality of activities, building partner networks and strengthening cross-border cooperation. Non-Erasmus+ countries can participate as partners and associated partners can contribute without receiving funding.
Development cooperation activities among young people have been prominent in Austria since the 1960s, mainly led by institutions of the Catholic Church. These initiatives have involved young people in addressing global challenges and promoting concrete actions for a 'better world'. Publicly supported structures for youth-led development aid have been established, promoting intercultural understanding and cooperation between young people from different backgrounds. These activities continue to promote global awareness and solidarity among Austrian youth and contribute to international development efforts.
The Austrian Development Agency plays a major role in funding more than 500 projects and programmes with a total volume of more than €640 million per year to improve living conditions in developing countries.
Various organisations involve Austrian youth in development cooperation:
- The Austrian National Youth Council (BJV) is a youth-led organisation that promotes the rights and concerns of young people. They are involved in development processes on youth-related issues in Austria, networking and cooperating with stakeholders. They also run campaigns, including one on child poverty called ‘Poverty is not child's play’ (Armut ist kein Kinderspiel), which was launched in 2018. The BJV is an active contributor to the Poverty Conference, representing the perspective of children and young people.
- The OeAD supports the European Solidarity Corps (ESK) programme (see also chapter 2.7.2), which funds national and international projects that promote social engagement and cohesion among young people aged 18 to 30. ESK offers volunteering opportunities in non-profit organisations at home and abroad. Solidarity projects receive financial support to carry out initiatives in their local communities. The programme aims to promote solidarity and diversity in Europe and to enable young people to engage in meaningful activities across borders.
- Youth One World - Don Bosco Development Cooperation (Jugend Eine Welt - Don Bosco Entwicklungszusammenarbeit) is an Austrian aid organisation that has been working worldwide since 1997 to improve the prospects of marginalised children and young people. Their focus is on education as a means of overcoming poverty. Young people between the ages of 18 and 35 can volunteer abroad (Freiwilligeneinsatz im Ausland) for a year to work in social projects. Accompanied by project partners, the Salesians of Don Bosco and the Daughters of Don Bosco, they support centres for street children, youth centres, schools, workshops and vocational training centres in Africa, Asia and Latin America. During their assignment, they help with activities such as afternoon care, language teaching and act as a trusted figure for the children and young people involved.
- FIMCAP, the International Federation of Catholic Parish Youth Movements, includes the Catholic Young Scholars Austria (Katholische Jungschar Österreich) as part of its global network of Catholic youth organisations. FIMCAP focuses on understanding the specific needs of children and young people worldwide and acts on the basis of the experiences of its members. Through its activities it aims to promote encounters between young people. FIMCAP also engages in development cooperation activities and programmes, such as organising visits by international groups to member organisations' activities, including national camps and meetings of youth organisations from different countries.
- The Austrian Scout Movement (Pfadfinder/innen Österreich) is the largest scout organisation in Austria and the only one recognised by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM). They play a significant role in development cooperation activities among young people in Austria and abroad through international scout exchanges, projects, workshops and educational programmes (Internationale Programme und Projekte). These activities promote global understanding, personal growth and a positive impact on society. The association is committed to protecting the environment, working together and instilling in its members a love of peace.
- Caritas Austria offers young people aged 18 and over the opportunity to take part in international voluntary service (Internationale Freiwilligeneinsätze) and contribute to Caritas projects in countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Peru, India, Nepal, Indonesia and Thailand. These opportunities enable young volunteers to make a positive impact on society and gain valuable experience abroad.
Furthermore, other organisations and programmes such as Austrian Service Abroad (see chapter 2.5.2 and 2.7.1), DKA Austria (see chapter 2.5.2), ‘Limitless’ (see chapter 2.5.2) and the EU programme ‘Volunteering in Humanitarian Aid’ (see chapter 2.5.1) are involved in development cooperation activities among young people in Austria and/or abroad.