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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


9. Youth and the World

9.1 General context

On this page
  1. Main concepts
  2. Youth interest in global issues

Main concepts


The policies aiming to encourage young people to get involved in international development policies and strategies, and in solving global issues, are not based on specific national concepts.




Youth interest in global issues


Recent research on young French people has allowed us to identify and describe how much this age group knows about and is interested in global issues.

Data from: “French people and the development aid policy / les Français et la politique d’aide au développement”.

The French Development Agency / Agence Française de Développement (AFD) implements the government’s development aid policy, and conducts a yearly survey on “French people and the development aid policy”.

The 2019 survey (latest data available) was carried out by the Ipsos research institute for AFD. It assesses the degree to which French people, and notably young people, agree with public development aid. It also looks at the knowledge and perception they have of certain global issues, such as inequality between countries and climate change.

This study found that 79% of French people agree with the idea of helping developing countries. However, although French people support the policies to help transition countries, there is room for improvement in their knowledge of how these work and of the political stakes involved in development policy. Indeed, only 23% said they were well informed about French development policy.

67% of French people believe that events in developing countries in the next few years in terms of economy, climate and population, etc., could have an impact on their life in France.

French people also question whether the development aid is effective: 31% believe it to be effective, but 61% think the opposite.

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.

Source :


Climate issues

According toa study carried outin 2019 by Crédoc (Research Centre for the study and observation of living conditions / Centre de recherche pour l'étude et l'observation des conditions de vie), climate change is a problem that worries young French people.

In 2019, this anxiety about climate change and the environment was channelled into theSchool Strike for Climate, led by the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, and the global demonstrations by young people for the climate. It was also reflected in the high levels of young people who voted for the ecologist parties in the European elections in May 2019.

The study highlights a paradox: although young people are worried about the climate, their daily habits are not any better for the environment than older people’s.

It shows that:

_ “The environment is the biggest worry for 18- to 30-year-olds (32%), coming above unemployment (17%).” 

_ “The commitment of 18- to 24-year-olds to protecting the environment is growing: 12% were actively involved in an association in 2019, compared to 3% in 2016.”

_ “But there are less of them who recycle their rubbish, buy local and seasonal vegetables or try to reduce their electricity consumption.” 

However, young people are more environmentally friendly in their transport than older people: less of them own a car, and many tend to walk, cycle or use public transport or car-sharing. They are also more open to alternative ways of consuming (buying second hand, renting, borrowing, reselling, bartering, etc.). 

The CREDOC study thus demonstrates the need to raise awareness in young people of climate change and also encourage them to change their behaviour.


Environmental issues

In October 2020, the Ministry for Ecological Transition published the results of a study entitled, “French people and nature: frequentation, representations and opinions / Les Français et la nature : fréquentation, représentations et opinions”. This looked into the role played by nature in the daily lives of French people.

The study shows that overall, French people feel “connected” to nature but are not all able to access it as much as they would like. They have noticed a deterioration in natural environments in the last few years, but remain nevertheless convinced that it is not too late to act. On this point, they believe they are “doing as much as they can” or are waiting to be given the means to do more. The study shows that the opinions of French people are highly varied and that they also vary depending on their age:

When questioned about how much they know about nature in general, the under 25s were the age group who most often replied that they “are not interested in” the subject. 


The DJEPVA Barometer of Youth 2020 / Baromètre DJEPVA sur la Jeunesse 2020 (annual report on young people) stresses that:

“between environmental impetus and resignation, awareness of the impact of our ways of life and fascination with technological products (with high environmental impacts, life cycle, recycling, energy), young people, like the rest of the population, find themselves caught between the future world that must be built and a devotion to consumer culture”.

However, it found that at the start of 2020, “concern about the environment continued to grow in 18- to 30-year-olds and in the population as a whole, rising by 5 points. That year, the number of French people who were worried about environmental damage reached it highest level in 30 years. The same trend can also be observed in young people.”

 The study also shows that “the fight against climate change is at the heart of the population’s environmental concerns:

“55% of young French people (and 52% of over 30s) rate this as one of the most important environmental issues, behind air pollution and in front of the decline or disappearance of species and natural ecosystems, which is a worry for half of French young people (51%). This age group is also more concerned about pollution from agriculture (47% for over 30s compared to 31% of under 30s). A large majority of young people say they are aware of the environment.”

Additionally, “young French people, like young Europeans, believe that citizens in general are not doing enough to protect the environment (64%). And more than two thirds (67%) of them believe they can play a role in protecting the environment (Graph 85).”

Source: Baromètre DJEPVA sur la jeunesse 2020, INJEP, Notes & rapports/rapport d’étude, 2020

There are 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

More generally, there are other studies that show that young French people are interested in volunteering and ‘bénévolat’, such as the 2019 Barometer from the Department for Youth, Non-Formal Education and Voluntary Organisation / Direction de la jeunesse, de la vie associative et de l’éducation populaire pour la jeunesse (DJEPVA). The DJEPVA requested the Research Centre for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions / Centre de Recherches pour l’Étude et l’Observation des Conditions de vie (CREDOC) to produce this barometer in collaboration with the National Institute for Youth and Non-Formal Education / Institut National de la Jeunesse et de l’Éducation Populaire (INJEP). In 2019, 37% of 18- to 30-year-olds were willing to give up their time for a voluntary activity. The study also makes clear that this degree of commitment in young people is stable.  This interest in bénévolat is also expressed through international volunteering.

Data on international youth volunteering

In 2017 (last data avalaible), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which funds several international volunteering schemes, published a briefing note on statistics relating to the various forms of volunteering schemes supported by the Ministry in charge of foreign affairs:

  • "The distribution between men and women was 40/60%".
  • "While 39% of volunteers were over 30 years old, most of them were young people, young women in particular. This distribution has not significantly changed compared with previous years".
  • "90% of volunteers were French nationals, with the rest coming from around 50 different countries".
  • "Volunteer host countries were mainly located in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 45% of volunteers, while 30% were hosted in Asia and the rest in America and North Africa".
  • "Where the academic profile of international solidarity volunteers is concerned, 66% were educated to Master’s level or above, which is a high level of education".

For further information on youth engagement, see Chapter 2 Voluntary activities.


Data on young people abroad

According to the figures in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ 2020 Register of French Expatriates that is managed by the consulates, on 1st January 2020, the number of French people registered as living abroad totalled 1 775 875.

 The register states that “the age structure of the French expatriate community remained stable compared to the preceding year. 34.5% of those listed are under 25, 49.3% are between 25 and 60 years old and 16.2% are over 60”. The gender ratio of French expatriates has also remained stable in the last few years. 50% the expatriates listed in the register in 2019 were women.

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