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Many organisations are involved in the projects and policies encouraging young people to take an interest in the global issues and challenges of tomorrow. These include the government ministries (Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry for the Ecological Transition, etc.), public bodies and local authorities, as well as associations, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and movements involved in international development and international solidarity education. Often, the work done by these groups is complementary, especially as regards running international volunteering schemes and building programmes for international solidarity or sustainable development education. These activities constitute the main policy themes aiming to get young people involved in global issues .
Various government authorities are active in the field of youth engagement in international solidarity, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry responsible for Youth Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, all of which play a particularly active role as they are responsible for developing, promoting, implementing and supervising international solidarity schemes and, more specifically, international youth volunteering schemes.
Ministry for Ecological Transition
The Ministry for Ecological Transition / ministère de la transition écologique prepares and enacts government policy in the fields of sustainable development, the environment, especially protecting and enhancing the value of nature and biodiversity, green technologies, the energy transition and energy. It designs and enacts policies to combat climate change and atmospheric pollution, and promotes the sustainable management of rare resources. The Ministry is responsible for international climate relations, and for promoting and developing the Social and Solidarity Economy.
The Ministry acts to support young people by helping to organise events, programmes and education schemes on sustainable development in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.
Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also plays a key role in encouraging international citizenship in young people and provides financial support for such projects. As such, it acts through the different departments and organisations. These include the Department for United Nations, International Organisations, Human Rights and Francophonie / Direction des Nations unies, des organisations internationales, des droits de l'Homme et de la francophonie, which is responsible for matters dealt with within the United Nations, its subsidiary bodies and specialised institutions, as well as the Organisation internationale de la francophonie and the Council of Europe.
The Ministry is involved in designing the international action schemes for young people such as international volunteering, notably through its General Directorate for Globalisation, Culture, Education and International Development /Direction générale de la mondialisation, de la culture, de l’enseignement et du développement international (DGM)and its Delegation for External Action by Local Authorities Délégation pour l’action extérieure des collectivités territoriales (DAECT). DAECT encourages collaboration between French and foreign local authorities to put in place cooperation projects in the fields of culture, sustainable development, education, youth and economic development. It is supported by the National Council for Decentralised Cooperation / Conseil national de la coopération décentralisé which facilitates communication between the local authorities and the Ministries concerned. The aim being to enable these entities to share a common vision of the internationalisation of local authorities.
The Ministry does not directly fund the volunteering missions but it does provide financial support through several volunteering schemes:
- International solidarity volunteering / volontariat de solidarité internationale: grants allocated to the associations that send these young volunteers abroad. It covers their initial training, social security, supervision and support, and provides funds to help them reintegrate when back home.
- Youth work camps / chantiers de jeunes: grants for projects proposed by the associations with their Southern partners.
The relationship between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the volunteering associations is based on a Charter signed in 2009 between the state and several associations. This is known as the Common Charter for International Volunteering Exchange and Solidarity / charte commune au volontariat international d’échanges et de solidarité (VIES) (.pdf, 186 Ko).
The text sets out the main types of international volunteering and also states the common values shared by the associations and the volunteers they work with:
- Respect for rights, cultures and needs,
- Partnership and reciprocity when carrying out development projects,
- Promoting commitment to volunteering,
- Taking the most disadvantaged into account.
Additionally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues authorisations to the associations that send out volunteers;
These authorisations allow them to send volunteers abroad in the field of development cooperation and humanitarian action and to receive funding to do so. For the volunteers, the association’s authorisation provides them with legal protection (social cover, allowance, holidays, help to reintegrate when back home, etc) and offers guarantees that the missions will be well run (preparation before leaving, support during the placement, support for professional reintegration when back home).
Other than providing support for international volunteers, some of whom are young people, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also plays a role of dialoguing with civil society. In France, there are around 3 000 Civil Society Organisations / Organisations de la Société Civile (OSC) actively working to promote international solidarity.
A discussion and decision-making body has been created to facilitate this dialogue with the Civil Society Organisations, following the example of the National Council for Development and International Solidarity /Conseil National du Développement et de la Solidarité Internationale (CNDSI).
The National Council for Development and International Solidarity
The CNDSI – National Council for Development and International Solidarity (Conseil national pour le développement et la solidarité internationale) – provides a framework for dialogue and regular concertation between all development and international solidarity stakeholders on guidelines for development policy.
The 53 prominent figures that make up the CNDSI are divided into groups representing the various components of civil society: NGOs, unions, employers, businesses, members of parliament, local authorities, universities and research centres. An eighth group composed of prominent foreign figures rounds out the Council, which is chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Ministry of National Education and the Ministry in charge of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
The Ministry of National Education and the Ministry responsible for Higher Education help arouse young people’s interest in global issues through school programmes and materials as well as by enabling young people to experience international mobility via the European Erasmus + programme in which they participate.
This agency has also been given responsibility for implementing the new European Solidarity Corps programme.
The Ministry responsible for Youth Affairs’ DJEPVA – Department for Youth, Non-Formal Education and Voluntary Organisations (Direction de la jeunesse, de l’éducation populaire et de la vie associative)
The DJEPVA, which is attached to the Ministry of National Education (see Chapter 1.4 Youth policy decision-making), fosters the development of bilateral exchanges and multilateral cooperation programmes in favour of youth, in particular through provision of funding and development of mobility projects. It also oversees the activities of bilateral youth offices (the Franco-German Youth Office and the Franco-Quebecois Youth Office) and participates in the drafting and implementation of cooperation policies in the field of youth.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition
Agricultural education, which comes under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, encourages international youth engagement and cooperation through international student exchange policies, drawing in particular on the world’s geographical networks: 12 networks in all facilitate cooperation with the countries of the Maghreb, America, Africa and Asia.
Depending on the global issues involved, other ministries may participate in the drafting of international youth engagement policies, including the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, which implements government policy on sustainable development, the environment (protection and promotion of nature and biodiversity in particular) and countering global warming.
2. Public operators
The different operators act to promote international action, particularly in young people, and to address global issues, following the example of:
The French Agency for Development
The AFD – French Agency for Development (Agence française de développement), is a public institution that plays a key role in France’s cooperation policy. It is under the joint supervision of the Ministry responsible for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the Ministry for Overseas France. The AFD is tasked with promoting economic and social development in the so-called Southern countries and French Overseas territories. It funds projects, programmes and studies and lends its support to partner countries in the implementation of projects combating poverty and promoting economic development, education, etc.
Set up in 2009, France Volontaires is a platform for international solidarity volunteering schemes, which promotes, develops and implements the various forms of engagement involved in VIESs – international exchange and solidarity volunteering schemes (volontariats internationaux d’échange et de solidarité). The platform also acts as an international volunteering observatory and is tasked with finding opportunities for and providing information and guidance to those wishing to volunteer.
The French Institute
The French Institute (Institut Français) comes under the aegis of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture. It is responsible for developing French cultural action on the international scene via a range of actions including:
- Promoting international artistic exchanges;
- Supporting cultural development in Southern countries;
- Encouraging dissemination and learning of the French language;
- Developing dialogue between cultures via organisation of “seasons”, “years” and “festivals” in France and abroad;
- Fostering international mobility on the part of creators;
- Coordinating and encouraging international action with French local authorities;
- Acting on behalf of cultural diversity at European level through European and multilateral partnerships.
The Civic Service Agency
The Civic Service Agency (Agence du Service Civique) is a public operator under the aegis of the Ministry responsible for Youth Affairs; it provides all young people between 16 and 25 y/o, and up to 30 y/o for the disabled, with the opportunity to commit themselves, if they so wish, to a general interest mission in France or elsewhere. Civic service may be carried out in France or abroad.
The Erasmus+ France / Education and Training Agency
The Erasmus+ France / Education and Training Agency is responsible for promotion and management of a number of European programmes and schemes, including Erasmus+ education and training components. The agency comes under the Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, and the Ministry of Labour.
The main aims of such European programmes are to enable young people to contribute to multilingualism and European citizenship. By 2020, over 500,000 French citizens and four million Europeans should have benefited from individual mobilities or strategic partnerships in the context of Erasmus+.
The Agency is the national representative for the Europass, AEFA – European Agenda for Adult Education and Training (Agenda Européen pour l'Education et la Formation des Adultes), Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe (EPALE), and ECVET (European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training) schemes. It is also acts to provide information within the Euroguidance network.
Erasmus+ Youth and Sports Agency
Just like its counterpart devoted to education, the Erasmus+ Youth Agency participates in creation of European citizenship and links between the youth of member States contributing to non-formal education, and also intended for vulnerable sectors of the public.
To meet these objectives, the Agency runs two European programmes: ERASMUS’s Youth programme + the European Solidarity Corps aimed at 13- to 30-year-olds, but also at the associations, local authorities and any organisation working in the field of youth. The Agency’s main types of action are:
- Youth exchanges: to foster encounters between European youth groups around a range of topics
- European volunteering:: to support the sending and hosting of young volunteers working on individual or collective general interest projects
- Mobility among youth operators: to develop cooperation between youth professionals
- Strategic partnerships: to share experiences and innovative practices between bodies in different countries active in the fields of education, training and youth
- Participation and structured dialogue: to lend support to debate between youth and decision-makers on the major themes that concern them.
Since the 1960s, France has hosted two international youth offices that organise international mobility programmes, mostly in the fields of solidarity and environmental protection: the OFAJ – Franco-German Youth Office (Office franco-allemand de la jeunesse) develops a Franco-German volunteering programme, while the OFQJ – Franco-Quebecois Youth Office (Office franco-québécois de la jeunesse) seeks to contribute to bringing French and Quebecois youth together. Although OFQJ schemes essentially focus on vocational training, some of its projects bear on such global issues as climate change and water.
In 2018, for example, On the occasion of the international conference of young francophones in Geneva, the OFQJ supported 13 young professionals engaged to lead workshops or participate in round tables on the theme of the economic inclusion of young people and women in the French-speaking world.
For further information on these offices and their programmes, see Chapter 2 2.6 Cross-Border Mobility Programmes.
3. Local authorities
Local authorities (Regions, départements, municipalities and intermunicipalities) play a leading role in implementation of international civic engagement projects for young people, in particular because international engagement helps foster civic awareness and self-sufficiency among the nation’s youth while contributing to local authorities’ international influence.
Such authorities intervene via financial support for mobility programmes, as well as through organisation of local events related to international solidarity or sustainable development (forums, encounters, etc.). They may also lend direct or indirect support to international youth engagement, in particular through grants aiding mobility or creation of solidarity and citizenship projects. They may also develop their own projects or invest in partnerships with associations.
In addition, they may implement projects related to policy on local authorities’ decentralised cooperation – i.e. external action based on agreements with local authorities in other countries. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs lends its support to implementation of AECT – external action of local and regional authorities (action extérieure des collectivités territoriales), with combating climate change and environmental questions among its priorities. Decentralised cooperation projects involving young people are given concrete expression by the hosting of young people from other States and sending young French citizens to partner local authorities.
- Associations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in the field of international solidarity
Associations play a major role in youth engagement, enabling young people to experience international solidarity for themselves through international volunteering or community service. It would be impossible to mention all the associations and movements active in the field of international youth engagement as they are simply too numerous and too varied. Such associations and NGOs usually act in partnership with public operators, in particular ministries and local authorities, which may also lend them financial support.
In addition, a number of such associations may be accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, enabling them to receive financial support and send out volunteers on missions in the field of humanitarian action and cooperation.
These accredited association are for example: (non-exhaustive list)
- ACF – Action against Hunger (Action contre la faim)
- Agronomists and Veterinarians without Borders (Agronomes et Vétérinaires sans frontières)
- ASMAE – Sister Emmanuelle Association (Association Sœur Emmanuelle)
- ATD Fourth World – Land and People for Tomorrow (ATD Quart-Monde – Terre et Homme de demain)
- CRF – French Red Cross (Croix-Rouge française)
- EDM – Children of the Mekong (Enfants du Mékong)
- EED - Children and Development (Enfants et développement)
- EMI – International Medical Assistance (Entraide médicale internationale)
- GER – European Guild (Guilde européenne du raid)
- MDM – Doctors of the World (Médecins du monde)
- Samusocial International
- SIF – Islamic Relief France (Secours islamique France)
None of the above associations have volunteering as their primary focus, unlike other associations specialising in sending young people abroad such as France Volontaires. Set up in 2009, France Volontaires is the leading operator active in sending out volunteers in the field of development. Its role is to promote and develop various forms of voluntary and solidarity engagement abroad.
2.Youth associations and movements
Some associations and youth movements founded and run by young people are themselves involved in the public debate on global issues, by promoting and running solidarity and international citizenship actions
NB.: the list is non-exhaustive and indicative).
Committee for National and International Relations between Youth and Non-Formal Education Associations / Comité pour les relations nationales et internationales des associations de jeunesse et d’éducation populaire (CNAJEP) (See Chapter 2)
For the Youth and Non-formal Education associations, the CNAJEP provides a space for dialogue, consultation and representation with the public powers on issues concerning youth and non-formal education.
It “enriches the European and international domains in a cross-cutting way by building bridges with the national and regional authorities to cover all issues relating to youth and non-formal education.” In France, it runs the European Structured Dialogue programme and has set up a consultation process for young people known as “ProVox”. As an example, CNAJEP works to lobby for sustainable development and actions to help the climate.
“Committed and determined”
The “Committed and determined / Engagé.es et déterminé.es” (E&D) association is a national body for international solidarity and non-formal education that facilitates a network of associations seeking to create solidarity links at international scale. It is made up of associations run by young people and/or students. E&D is also present internationally (through the different multi-actor programmes, among others) and aims to:
- “Encourage meetings and discussions on practices, skills and knowledge between young members of associations from different countries”,
- “Promote citizen commitment in students and young people across the world,
- “Enable young members of associations from different countries to form partnerships to build international solidarity projects together.”
- “Strengthen the capacities of the associations, coordinators and networks for collectives of active young people.”
3. International organisations.
French youth can also participate in schemes set up by international organisations of which France is a member, such as the UN, UNESCO and La Francophonie
The United Nations (UN)
France is one of the founder members of the United Nations (UN), whose mission it is to respond to such international issues as peace and security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, terrorism, and humanitarian and health crises. It is also represented in the other main and subsidiary bodies of the UN (it is an elected member of the Human Rights Council, for example). The UN has developed programmes in which young French citizens can participate, including the United Nations Volunteers (UNV), UNV Youth and UNV Specialists programmes, and the Young Experts programme.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
UNESCO aims to build peace through international cooperation in education, science and culture. The UNESCO programmes contribute to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals as defined in Agenda 2030, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. France is one of the founding members of UNESCO. Some UNESCO programmes encourage young people to get involved in building international policy. This is the case for the UNESCO Youth Forum which was created in 1999 to enable young people to voice their concerns and ideas to the Member States and thus contribute to shaping how UNESCO is managed.
International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF)
The OIF is an institution that fosters cooperation between French-speaking countries. A number of its missions concern global issues such as promotion of peace, democracy and human rights, and development of international cooperation at the service of sustainable development. The OIF intervenes via aid to financing and support for implementation of solidarity projects. It launches public calls for projects every year, funded by the Organisation’s budget as well as by voluntary contributions from member States and governments.
The OIF has also developed a VIF – Francophonie International Volunteering programme (Volontariat international de la francophonie). Based on the values of solidarity, sharing and commitment, the programme provides young French-speakers aged between 21 and 34 y/o with the opportunity to make their knowledge, knowhow and soft skills available to a development project for a 12-month period and experience international mobility in a French-speaking area. Such volunteering missions are carried out at French-speaking institutions wishing to benefit from the help of volunteers in implementing their projects.
Company foundations may also participate in development of international solidarity projects focusing on young people. In particular, they are regular partners in calls for proposals for young people, implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, such as the Schneider Electric Foundation.
The policies encouraging young people to get involved in international solidarity and global issues mainly rely on multi-sector partnerships involving different stakeholders: associations, public institutions, government ministries, young people active in these projects, local authorities, businesses etc. This cooperation can take the form of creating discussion and advisory organisations as well as decision-making bodies that bring together the Ministries, public operators, associations, and businesses (non-exhaustive list):
The Cross-Ministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID)
The Cross-Ministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development / comité interministériel de la coopération internationale et du développement (CICID) was created by Decree n° 98-66 of 4 February 1998. It defines France’s policy directions for international cooperation and development aid.
It is presided by the French prime minister and brings together the ministers mostly directly concerned with the issues of development. CICID has met 11 times since its creation. The minutes of the CICID meeting of 8 February 2018 conclude that “[CICID] is launching a renewal of France’s international development and solidarity policy so that we can build a better world together. It should mobilise both public and private stakeholders and be built in a spirit of shared responsibility and thus of greater expectations as concerns the beneficiaries, by mobilising young [French] people on the principle of reciprocity. It should also be better aligned with [the] international and local partners.
The National Council for International Development and Solidarity (CNDSI)
The National Council for International Development and Solidarity / Conseil national pour le développement et la solidarité internationale (CNDSI) is a consultation forum held on a regular basis for all stakeholders in international development and solidarity. For more information on CNDSI, see the “governance” sub-chapter.
The Regional Committees for European and International Mobility
The COREMOB were created in 2015 and are the regional version of the CPMEI. These regional committees bring together all the stakeholders in youth mobility, both elected officials and beneficiaries. They aim is to facilitate the coordination and networking of the partners. Also, each regional committee must seek to diagnose any problems and establish a (triannual) mobility plan.
Cross-ministerial circular no.djepva/mceijva/dreic/dgefp/dger/2015/54 of 23 February 2015 bearing on setup of regional committees on European and international mobility for young people defines the role played by such committees.
Regional Multi-Actor Networks
In addition to the COREMOBs, cross-sectoral cooperation between parties involved in promoting solidarity and international cooperation may take the form of an RRMA – a Regional Multi-Actor Network (Réseau régional multi-acteurs). In the 1990s, on the initiative of the State, local authorities and associations, a number of French regions set up such regional multi-actor schemes for exchange, support and concertation in the field of international cooperation.
Such networks have 3 specificities:
1. “Their action is rooted in the regional territory”;
2. “Their aims are to improve international cooperation and solidarity actions and contribute to inhabitants’ international openness”;
3. “They facilitate a multi-actor network (associations, local authorities, educational institutions, non-formal education bodies, public institutions, economic actors, etc.) in a dynamic of exchanges, collaborative work, concertation and subsidiarity”.
Their main activities are:
- Identifying the stakeholders;
- Providing information (monitoring, producing and disseminating information);
- Supporting project holders (training, methodological support);
- Facilitating discussions between stakeholders (capitalising on experience, mutualising, organising meetings, creating partnerships).
The RMMAs aim to:
- Act as an intermediary between the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the regional interest groups,
- Contribute to building regional strategies in terms of international cooperation and solidarity,
- Federate all the public and private stakeholders in their areas,
- Contribute to the development of global citizenship education by raising awareness as widely as possible on development issues, promoting citizen and solidary action and developing synergies and partnerships.
- Encourage commitment to the SDGs at global scale.