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The concept of 'Youth and the World' is rather artificial in the policy sphere of the Czech Republic. The actions in this field are mostly a domain of civil society, individual approach, activity and attitude to the role and life of a person in the society and in the world. It could be marked with the motto 'think globally and act locally' with all the connotations and various interpretations of that motto – to think in a global perspective and to act according to that at home or to help those who are not so fortunate abroad. These ideas are also seen in many activities, especially of civil society organisations and initiatives related to young people.
There are two main concepts in the Czech Republic linked to global issues education in the widest meaning of the concept of education. Those are 'EVVO' – 'Environmental education, upbringing and enlightenment' and 'GRV' – 'The global development education'.
The 'EVVO' Concept
In the Czech Republic, there is quite a long and specific tradition of 'ecology education' or 'environmental education' linked to global, local and environmental issues in the widest sense of the environment. Since the end of the 1990s on the policy level they have spoken about 'EVVO – Enviromentální vzdělávání, výchova a osvěta' ('Environmental education, upbringing and enlightenment').
EVVO is also anchored in legislation, concretely in the Act no. 123/1998 Sb. on the right to information about the environment. According to Article 13, the public authorities from the state to the local level are obligated to support environmental education. Further, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is also obligated to ensure that EVVO in the sense of the sustainable development education, is in the basic national curricular documents and that the state supports the pedagogues in their education in the field of protection of the environment and sustainable development.
The goal of environmental education in the Czech Republic is the development of competences (within this concept in the sense of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values) required for environmentally responsible behaviour. It is behaviour that is within a given situation the best option for the current and future status of the environment. Environmentally responsible behaviour is perceived as responsible personal, civic and professional action regarding the treatment of nature and natural resources, and consumers behaving and actively influencing their own surroundings with the use of the democratic process and other legal ways. EVVO prepares and motivates such action, however, the acting as such is a matter of a free decision of the individual.
EVVO was developing quite well and under this concept has established a rich nationwide governance network of various, mostly non-state and non-public actors, on this kind of educational activity in the widest meaning of the term 'education' including environmental volunteering, reduction of consumption impact, sustainability in all its practical aspects, nature protection etc. Currently, the concept is steered and supported by the Ministry of the Environment and its state programme on EVVO and Environmental counselling for the years 2016-2025.
The basic history of the development of the EVVO concept can help for a wider insight:
During the former Czechoslovakia and under the communist regime, ecological activities were popular in the society and especially among young people, parents and more significantly by mothers worried about their children´s environment. However, as since the 1970s these activities became not only related to the protection of nature but to wider connotations linked to life and humanity, the totalitarian communist regime was somewhat suspicious, as they might endanger the concept of the 'new socialist man'. A 'new socialist man' denotes under the communist ideology a person without freedoms in the sense in which the 'western' free liberal world, and the current Czech Republic, recognise and perceive them.
In the year 1985 in a research paper, RNDr. Danuše Kvasničková, CSc. justified the introduction of 'ecological education': '... it is more obvious that it is an education that reinforces the versatile knowledge and respect for the principles of the relations of man and the environment at the global level and the biosphere'. (According to Nástin vývoje EVVO v letech 1918 až 1989 – 'Outline of the EVVO development in years 1918 until 1989'). This was something against the official communist ideology of the time.
On the impulse of the basic organisation of the then Socialist Youth Union, the year 1974 was declared as a 'year of development and environmental protection'. The aim of the action was the coordination and unification of relatively inconsistently designed activities for children's and youth organisations in the area of care for the environment (in the meaning of global issues as well). These actions came to the public consciousness as the action 'Brontosaurus' and grew into a lasting movement, which has turned into the Brontosaurus movement and later the Association Brontosaurus. Brontosaurus is still a non-governmental non-profit youth organisation aiming at the issue of the environment, sustainability and also in the wider sense of global issues.
Such activities attract free-minded people and this could have been seen as a danger for the communist totality until 1989. In many aspects, these activities have been developing within the underground or as parallel to the official establishment, even if the establishment needed to recognise them to some extent in order to be able to steer them. We can assess that they have been on the edge of the social and political development.
From this very brief and insufficient outline, we can illustrate the roots of quite a wide caution of people of older generations active in this sphere to official cooperation on a policy level and thus also a strong accent on the decentralisation and non-state development of the cooperation of young people on global and environmental issues. Of course, after the regime changed, the situation changed dramatically, however, the focus on the issue and outcomes to some extent persists instead of a focus on 'policy' and state institutionalisation. The state needed to prove that it is honestly supportive. Since that young people were drivers in global environmental issues which was accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic time since 2020 to that aspect, that sustainability and "Green Europe" became also top priorities for the coming Czech EU Presidency 2022.
The 'GRV' Concept
A parallel concept to EVVO, which is also more globally and internationally oriented, is the concept of 'GRV – Globální rozvojové vzdělávání' (Global Development Education). Global development education is a lifelong learning process, which contributes to the understanding of the differences and similarities between the lives of people in developing and developed countries and facilitates the understanding of the economic, social, political, environmental and cultural processes that affect them. It develops skills and supports the creation of values and attitudes so that people are able and willing to actively participate in solving local and global problems. Global development education aims at taking responsibility for creating a world where all people have the opportunity to live a decent life.
GRV is promoted more as being linked with the international cooperation, humanitarian aid, and international development cooperation, however slowly became more promoted also toward inner issues and school education.
GRV is also in a way a domain of civil society and also some youth organisations. However, both of the concepts are also very much linked to the formal school system and both are anchored in the national curricular documents in formal elementary and secondary education.
In the 2018 - 2030 national Strategy on Global Development Education, the goal is defined as:
"The goal of Global Development Education (GRV), based on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is to support people's ability to competently and objectively understand global, regional and local political, economic, social, environmental and cultural processes, including their interrelationships and their interconnectedness."
Main Topics of GRV according to the Strategy 2030 are:
- World interconnectedness and interdependence
- Diversity of the world
- Poverty and inequality
- Human rights
- Peace and conflict resolution
Formal youth participation programmes on global issues decision-making
Basically, when possible the Czech Republic uses opportunities to delegate young people or youth representatives to international events for young people. However, there is no generally known system for the youth delegation and the activities are rather ad hoc and based on capacities and the worldview of actors and financial resources.
Most developed is the Cooperation with the Czech Council of Children and Youth, as the only recognised National Youth Council and an umbrella organisation for Children and Youth organisations in the Czech Republic. Alternatively, there is the National Parliament of Children and Youth as the umbrella initiative for children and youth parliaments.
The Czech Council of Children and Youth is a member of the European Youth Forum and since 2016 has its own first elected representative to the Youth Forum's board. In the 2016-2017 mandate, the representative of the Council was also first elected to the Advisory Council on Youth by the Council of Europe.
The Programme of the UN Youth Delegates in the Czech Republic was initiated by the Czech Council of Children and Youth in the cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports since 2016 and it is run within the scope of the Structured Dialogue with Youth.
The participation and interest of Czech youth in global issues is not systematically studied or monitored by either the Czech state or academia. There are only partial studies by private actors and NGOs or tertiary education students within the scope of their bachelor, master and occasionally doctoral theses.
Thus, only systematic activity in this regard is the UN Youth Delegates Programme running within the Structured Dialogue with Youth and operated by the Czech Council of Children and Youth, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education. Czech UN Youth Delegates are familiar with the national outcomes of the Structured Dialogue and also by themselves they help to widen the Structured dialogue about the global level and global issues. During their visits of youth groups and schools, they collect and analyze the opinions and interests of young people in global matters together with the other outcomes of the Structured Dialogue with Youth.
Czech Council of Children and Youth also operates the Foreign Affairs Commission composed of representatives of its member organisations and interested individuals from young people. Together they discuss the international and global issues and prepare opinions and decisions for the Board of the Nation Youth Council.
The importance of environmental protection, nature conservation and the issues connected to climate change are important to young people in above-average values e.g. according to the representative survey of the youth initiative Youth Speak Up! which monitored important topics of young people in regard to parliamentarian election 2021.