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EACEA National Policies Platform


9. Youth and the World

9.4 Raising awareness about global issues

Last update: 9 January 2024

Formal, non-formal and informal learning

Formal learning

Sustainability and citizenship are two of the 16 new key competences in Flanders.

The citizenship competence is comprised of 7 building blocks: identity, diversity in the classroom, students engage in dialogue, being part of society, attention to sustainability, learning about our political system and the importance of democracy. In relation to sustainability it is mentioned that it is important that students gain insight into the complexity and interconnectedness of sustainability issues and that students critically reflect on sustainable development and apply the methodology of systems thinking to sustainability issues. Concerning the importance of democracy it is considered important that students gain insight into democratic principles and culture. The focus is a.o. on human and children’s rights, social justice and the welfare state.

The key competence of sustainability is not clearly defined but refers to other key competences such as entrepreneurship, citizenship and technology.

Furthermore, there is the project MOS (Milieuzorg Op School, Environmental Care on School) of the Flemish Department of Environment. The MOS project supports primary and secondary schools in making schools environmentally friendly and in providing a sustainable learning and living environment.

 Non-formal learning

The Flemish Government supports projects and initiatives in all kinds of areas which will make sure that sustainable choices are deliberate choices.

The Flemish Department of Environment focuses on pilot projects regarding Education for Sustainable Development and care for nature. A platform and working groups for ‘green’ education in formal and non-formal education exists, i.e. in youth work. A whole series of actions are organised, e.g. to stimulate green camps, green infrastructure, more nature to play in, playing in woods….

Educators’ support

In Flanders, there are various types of educational materials on sustainable development that were developed by Flemish-funded youth organisations, such as Globelink, JNM (Youth Federation for Nature and Environment), Studio Globo, the Flemish Youth Support Centre, Mediaraven.

Furthermore, the project MOS offers teaching materials, information and training to teachers of secondary schools. MOS belongs to a global network of schools that work towards environmental care and sustainability.  

Informal learning

The Flemish Department of Culture, Youth and Media supports young people in their voluntary engagement. Voluntary engagement is a policy priority within the Youth and Children’s Rights Plan 2020-2024 of the Flemish Government. One of the actions is a project call (2024-2025) for pilot projects on developing or broadening a (supra)local framework for informal voluntary engagement of children and youth.

Youth organisations whose core activities concentrate on topics related to youth and the world

The Flemish Parliament Act of 20 January 2012 supports and subsidises different organisations, such as national organised youth associations, associations information and participation and associations cultural education. It also provides the funding of organisations that focus on sustainability. The Flemish Government registers which organisations indicate in their annual report to work on sustainability.

Youth organisations whose core activities concentrate on topics related to youth and the world

The Flemish Parliament Act of 20 January 2012 supports and subsidises different organisations, such as national organised youth associations, associations information and participation and associations cultural education. It also provides the funding of organisations that focus on sustainability. The Flemish Government registers which organisations indicate in their annual report to work on sustainability.


Youth-targeted information campaigns on global issues

#iktrekhetmijaan (I care) 

#iktrekhetmijaan (I care), the former Thick Sweater Day (Dikketruiendag), is an awareness raising campaign organised by the Flemish Government. In 2005, the project MOS (Milieuzorg Op School, Environmental Care at School) of the Department of Environment and Spatial Development organised the first Thick Sweater Day in response to the Kyoto Protocol. The protocol’s objective was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

Since 2005, Thick Sweater Day has reminded us of the agreements made under this crucial treaty with a few simple activities: wear a warm sweater and turn down the heat, take your bike more often, eat locally grown food, reduce standby power and so on. On Thick Sweater Day Flanders massively reduced CO2 emissions as well as raised awareness of school-going children, businesses and the authorities.

National Children’s Rights Day

On 20 November, it is International Children’s Rights Day. There are a lot of activities to promote the understanding of children’s rights. 

In Flanders, the Flemish Office of the Children’s Rights Commissioner (see 4.2.2) also presents its annual report on this day. 


Fight4YourRight - Youth-friendly Concluding Observations of the UNCRC

To enable children’s participation in the reporting process, a key point is that they need to be informed on specific children’s rights recommendations for their State, as listed in the Concluding Observations (COBs) issued by the CRC at the end of the State’s children’s rights examination. The COBs as such are however drafted in technical, complex language, not adapted to children. Child Rights Connect also gives the important advice to translate the concluding observations into the national language(s) and produce simplified and child-friendly versions as a way to show State commitment and transparency to the CRC reporting process and to ensure the dissemination and understanding of the COBs to the wider public and children.

Therefore, at the end of Belgium’s last review by the CRC in 2019, at the initiative of the National Commission on the Rights of the Child – Belgium , a project was launched aimed at developing a child-friendly version of the latest COBs: Fight4YourRight (#F4YR).

The objectives of the project are to make the Concluding Observations more accessible as to:

• Foster their dissemination;

• Make them better known and increase their use by children, governments, (child rights) professionals and the population in general;

• Provide children with the necessary tools to contribute to the monitoring of the implementation of Belgium’s children’s rights obligations;

• Provide children with the necessary tools towards informed participation and for their opinions to be taken into account more frequently.


Campaign ‘Work for Change’ by YOUCA

YOUCA, Youth for Change and Action – formerly known as “Zuiddag” – is an organisation, supported by the Flemish Government, for and by young people that encourages them to work together towards a sustainable and just society. They do this by making them aware of important social challenges and by supporting them in their commitment. In addition, we provide unique encounters with impact on cultural, business and public life.

Each year in October there is the YOUCA Action Day. On that day, more than 15,000 young people from Flanders and Brussels commit themselves to work for a day for a company, an organisation, a government or a private individual. The wages they earn on that day go to projects of committed young people all over the world.

No Hate Speech Movement

The No Hate Speech Movement is a campaign for online human rights and against fear for young people who want to stop discrimination and hate speech online. The campaign started in 2013 and was initiated by the Council of Europe but it is based on national campaigns which are run in the member states of the Council of Europe. National committees operate their own national online Campaign platforms and online tools.

In Flanders, the No Hate Speech Movement Flanders, supported by the Division Knowledge and policy and youth organisations, calls on young people, youth workers, teachers, parents… and sensitize, train and support them to take actions against (online and offline) hate speech (No Hate Speech Movement Vlaanderen). has been created to provide some tips and advise. 


GoodFood@School is an initiative of Rikolto, Fairtrade Belgium and GoodPlanet that helps school integrate a healthy and sustainable food policy. Their goal is to ensure a healthy and sustainable food policy in all Flemish schools. Both in the kitchen and in the classroom. The underlying idea is that food at school can make our nutrition more environmentally responsible, fairer and healthier. Such projects are believed to be necessary if we want to feed the growing world population in a sustainable manner. The initiative involves the development of school food councils and school food labs.

Information providers


The youth organisation Globelink disseminate information and raise the awareness of young people about global issues through different leisure time projects, such as:

  • Kras for schools
  • Ecoshizzel for animated playgrounds and youth camps
  • 9400 Toeren, a project on mobility, for youth associations

The Flemish Youth Council

The UN representatives of the Flemish Youth Council launched the project and toolkit “Flemish youth 4 global goals” (only in Dutch). The toolkit explains the Global Goals for Sustainable Development to young people and youth organisations. The Flemish Youth Council believes that the Global Goals for Sustainable Development are important for young people and hopes that these goals will motivate the Flemish Government to work towards a sustainable world for young people and youth organisations. The toolkit has been updated in 2018.

The UN representatives of the Flemish Youth Council also offer a workshop on sustainability to teachers and students of upper secondary education.


The Ambrassade coordinates WAT WAT, a project commissioned by the Flemish Government. WAT WAT aims to provide young people between 11 and 24 years old with information on different topics for young people, including environment and sustainability. The goal is to tackle the fragmentation of initiatives, websites and campaigns targeted at young people.

Key initiatives

See also youth-targeted information campaigns on global issues. 

The Department of Environment

The Department is responsible for environmental education and provides training for teachers and lecturers. It also offers projects such as MOS and Ecocampus. These projects supports schools to make schools an environment-friendly and sustainable learning environment.