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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


No specific national concept for youth participation policies related to international development and global issues exists.


Youth interest in global issues


Concerns on environmental challenges

  • The “structured dialogue” (dialogue structuré) campaign involving young people and decision-makers revealed the following facts about the attitudes of young French people: 86% say they are worried about information related to the environment and climate change
  • 54.3% of young French people believe that public transport should be used more often.

Source : « que disent les jeunes franç sur les enjeux environnementaux ? », Provox, 31 octobre 2022


Concerns on global warming

According to a study carried out by Ipsos in 2021, 79% of young people aged 18 to 35 are concerned about global warming.

This anxiety about climate and environmental change was expressed in November 2021 with demonstrations in Paris and other major French cities while the Conference of the Parties (COP) 26 took place in Glasgow.

Another example is the March 2022 climate march, organised by the Fridays For Future movement, which brought together 334 organisations and showed major youth involvement.

According to a study carried out by the Federation of General Student Associations (FAGE – Fédération des associations générales étudiantes), the climate was the main concern of 32% of young people during the 2022 presidential elections in France.

The 2021 Ipsos study reveals a somewhat contradictory picture: although young people are concerned about the climate, they are easily influenced by false information on the subject.


Challenges for development aid policies

The French law No. 2021-1031 of 4th August 2021 relative to fair development and the fight against global inequalities (Loi n° 2021-1031 du 4 août 2021 de programmation relative au développement solidaire et à la lutte contre les inégalités mondiales) also underlines the “essential role of associations, businesses [...], social partners, and citizens, including representatives of the most vulnerable” for fair development policy.

The French Development Agency (AFD – Agence Française de Développement) implements the government’s development aid policy. In 2019, it conducted a survey on “French people and the development aid policy” (“les Français et la politique d’aide au développement”).

This study (latest data available), carried out by the Ipsos market research and consulting firm for the AFD, looks at how much French people (including young French) are aware of global issues and how much they support public development aid.

The study shows that young French people are increasingly committed: 79% of French 15- to 25-year-olds are involved in or would like to get involved in a cause or project aiming to help others. Their preferences are for causes relating to the environment and sustainable development.


There is other data available, particularly statistical, to shine light on how young French people interact with international issues:


Data on young people’s involvement in international issues in particular

There are other studies showing that young French people are interested in volunteering and "bénévolat" activities, such as the 2021 Youth Barometer (Baromètre DJEPVA sur la jeunesse) by the Department for Youth, Non-Formal Education and Voluntary Organisation (DJEPVA – La direction de la jeunesse de l'éducation populaire et de la vie associative). The DJEPVA requested the Research Centre for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions (CREDOC – Centre de Recherches pour l’Étude et l’Observation des Conditions de vie) to produce this barometer in collaboration with the National Institute for Youth and Non-Formal Education (INJEP – Institut National de la Jeunesse et de l’Éducation Populaire) In 2021, nearly one young person in two (48%) voluntarily dedicated their time to a voluntary or other type of organisation (political party, union, etc.). The study also says that the potential for youth involvement is growing: participation in "bénévolat" activities among young people has increased by 5 points compared to 2019.  This interest in bénévolat is also expressed through international volunteering.


Data on international volunteering of young people

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministère des affaires étrangères) funds several international volunteering schemes, and in 2019 (last overview available) it published an overview of statistics related to the different forms of volunteering that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports. This document helps us to analyse international solidarity volunteering (VSI – Volontariat de Solidarité Internationale) activities:

  •  “Distribution between men and women is 45%/55% respectively”; this is closer to being equal than the figures for 2017, which showed 40%/60% distribution.
  • “While 38% of volunteers are over 30, the majority are younger”.
  • “90% of volunteers are French, and the rest come from about fifty countries”.
  • “Volunteering destinations are mostly located in sub-Saharan Africa, which receives 47% of volunteers, with Asia receiving 30%, and the remainder travelling to the Americas and North Africa”.
  • “73% of international solidarity volunteers have an educational background exceeding 5 years of higher education, i.e. they are highly educated”.
  • “During their assignment, 49% work in administrative and management positions, while 22% participate in an educational cooperation programme”.

For more information see Chapter 2 on Voluntary activities.


Data on European and international mobility of young people [1]

International youth mobility has been reduced since March 2020 and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic: one third of young people surveyed in 2021 said they had to cancel a mobility project. But despite this, almost one in two young people plan to go abroad in the next five years for at least two consecutive weeks (excluding holidays). In 2021, the DJEPVA – Department for Youth, Non-Formal Education and Voluntary Organisation (Direction de la jeunesse de l'éducation populaire et de la vie associative) youth barometer also looked at mobility within Europe: 17% of 25- to 30-year-olds surveyed said they had already spent at least 6 months in a European country.

In 2020, 55% of young people who took part in international mobility projects did so for study or training purposes, 35% for work-related reasons, and 10% for volunteering or "bénévolat" activities.


Expatriation of young people

According to the figures in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ 2021 Register of French Expatriates that is managed by the consulates, on 1st January 2022 the number of French people registered as living abroad totalled 1,614,772.

 The register states that “the age structure of the French expatriate community is down by 4.2% compared to the previous year. 25.6% of those listed are under 18, and 9.5% are between 18 and 25, while 48.6% are between 25 and 60, and 16.4% are over 60”. The gender ratio of French expatriates has also remained stable in the last few years. 50% of the expatriates listed in the register in 2021 were women.

“The 5 countries that host the largest numbers of French expatriates are the same as in previous years. They are, in order, Switzerland, United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, and Canada”.