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EACEA National Policies Platform


9. Youth and the World

9.1 General context

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Main concepts
  2. Youth interest in global issues

Main concepts

In the Strategy for Estonian Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid 2016–2020 the main objective of Estonian development cooperation is defined as follows: to contribute to the eradication of poverty and to attaining the other Sustainable Development Goals.

The goals of Estonian development cooperation across the areas of activities are follows:

  • supporting the quality of education,
  • supporting the development of health care,
  • guaranteeing peace and stability,
  • supporting the development of democracy, the introduction of good governance practices and guaranteeing human rights,
  • promoting economic development,
  • fostering environmentally friendly development,
  • raising the awareness of the Estonian public, particularly younger people, concerning development cooperation and humanitarian aid, as well as global development problems.

The document states that Estonian development cooperation has always focused on safeguarding human rights and environmental friendliness. Estonia considers it important to observe the principles of empowering women and gender equality in all activities of development cooperation and humanitarian aid, to ensure the performance and sustainability of development cooperation.

Although the strategy ends in 2020, according to the programme document, the activities are to be implemented until 2023.

Youth interest in global issues

According to the study about global issues and values in schools, young people were most aware of two global issues in 2016: poverty and refugees. The number of students claiming that it is important to put Estonian issues in a global context in order to understand them has dropped significantly. In 2020, the OECD published the last part of the PISA research of 2018, which was called "Are students ready to thrive in an interconnected world?". Based on these results, the Ministry of Education and Research in cooperation with the Education and Youth Board published a report "Is the Estonian young person a world citizen?" (Kas Eesti noor on maailmakodanik?) revealing that young people are quite aware of global issues. The most prominent topics were the equality of men and women and climate change. Compared to the study conducted in 2016, poverty also came out in the top 7 topics.

The Ministry of Environment has commissioned regular surveys on the environmental awareness of the population, which are representative of population aged 15-74 years old. The most recent survey (2018) indicates that young people  (15-19 years old) gave the highest evaluation to the condition of the environment in Estonia, assess their environmental awareness to be somewhat lower and are more active in activities connected with environmental issues compared to other age groups. The previous study was conducted in 2016 showed the same results.

In 2020, the Ministry of Education and Research and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with Estonian and foreign experts introduced a report "Global Education in Estonia", which also showed a growing trend towards young people being interested in climate change. There are more and more groups of young people protesting against the lack of national efforts in combating climate change.

Summary research on youth work and global issues in Estonia indicates that youth organizations have a positive interest in global issues. Respondents to the online survey claimed that the most interesting topics in global issues were intercultural dialogue (79% of the respondents), access to education (75%), sustainable development (70%) and human rights and discrimination (62%). According to the study, organizations show a high level of interest in developing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes connected with global education, however; Estonian youth and youth organization members are not accustomed to think about global issues or link local issues to global problems.