9.1 General context
On this page
On this page
The involvement of Czech young people in the global policy making processes is based on two main concepts: 'EVVO' – 'Environmental education, upbringing and enlightenment' and 'GRV' – 'The global development education'.
'EVVO' – 'Environmental education, upbringing and enlightenment'
In the Czech Republic, there is quite a long and specific tradition of 'ecology education' or 'environmental education' linked to local and global environmental issues. Since the end of the 1990s, the concept of 'Environmental education, upbringing and enlightenment' ('EVVO – Enviromentální vzdělávání, výchova a osvěta') has been particularly popular in public policy.
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, national and local public authorities are obligated to support environmental education. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is also obligated to ensure that EVVO is adopted in the basic national school curriculum and that the state supports teachers and educators 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 those competences (i.e. knowledge, skills, attitudes and values) required for environmentally responsible behaviour. Environmentally responsible behaviour is perceived as the desired personal, civic and professional action regarding the treatment of nature and natural resources. Consumers are encouraged to behave and actively influence their own surroundings with the use of the democratic process and other legal ways. EVVO prepares and motivates such action. However, a responsible behaviour depends on a free individual decision.
A rich nationwide network of civil society organizations developed under the EVVO concept, for example in the field of environmental volunteering, reduction of consumption impact, sustainability in all its practical aspects, environmental safeguard etc. Currently, the EEVO model is also supported by the Ministry of the Environment 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 among mothers worried about their children´s environment. However, as since the 1970s these activities increasingly related with a wider range of social issues, the totalitarian communist regime was somewhat suspicious, as the ecological activism might endanger the concept of the 'new socialist man'. Under the communist ideology a 'new socialist man' denotes 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” by arguing that: “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 other global issues.
Such activities attracted free-minded people and this could have been seen as a danger for the communist regime 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. It can be sad that they have been on the edge of the social and political development.
This outline illustrates the roots of quite a strong caution of people of older generations towards official cooperation on a policy level, as well as their strong accent on the decentralisation and non-state development of the cooperation 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 to such extent, that sustainability and "Green Europe" became also top priorities for the Czech Presidency of the EU Council in 2022.
'GRV' – 'The global development education'.
A parallel concept to EVVO, which is also more globally and internationally oriented, is the concept of Global Development Education ('GRV – Globální rozvojové vzdělávání'). Global development education is a lifelong learning process, which contributes to the understanding of 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 EVVO and GRV concepts are also very much linked to the formal school system as they are anchored in the national school curriculum.
According to the 2018 - 2030 national Strategy on Global Development Education "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."
According theStrategy 2030, main global issues are:
- World interconnectedness and interdependence
- Diversity of the world
- Poverty and inequality
- Human rights
- Peace and conflict resolution
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, the 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 analyse 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.