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EACEA National Policies Platform


9. Youth and the World

9.3 Exchanges between young people and policy-makers on global issues

Last update: 18 August 2022
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  1. Global issues exchanges with policy-makers at the domestic level
  2. Global issues exchanges with policy-makers at the international level

Global issues exchanges with policy-makers at the domestic level

Consultation processes between the ministries are regulated in the Joint Rules of Procedure of the Federal Ministries (Gemeinsame Geschäftsordnung der Bundesministerien, GGO). The ministries are free to choose their own approaches on how to address e.g. young people. Youth conferences help to support the dialogue with policy-makers:

  • Federal youth conference (Bundesjugendkonferenz) The federal youth conference brings together committed young people from across the country to discuss current youth policy issues. It is part of the Federal Government's youth strategy and national as well as international topics are discussed.
  • Youth Politics Day (Jugendpolitiktage) of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ). At this event young people meet with politicians and representatives of society to discuss political issues and voice their concerns. Global issues are discussed at this event, see also the digital exhibition of the 2021 award winners.
  • The 2017 youth biodiversity congress (Jugendkongress Biodiversität) (June 2017) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit, BMUB), the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz, BfN) and the German Federal Environmental Foundation (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt) in Osnabrück. 180 young people aged from 16 to 27 joined the debate and implementation of the national biodiversity strategy (Nationale Strategie zur biologischen Vielfalt) by talking about biodiversity and sustainability issues. They talked to experts, trainers and policymakers (Dr Barbara Hendricks from the Federal Environment Ministry and President of BfN, Prof. Beate Jessel).

Another example is the involvement of non-government stakeholders and civil society in the discussion surrounding the National Sustainable Development Strategy. The federal government's sustainability dialogue platform (Dialog Nachhaltigkeit) included young people to give them the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions. The new version of the National Sustainable Development Strategy was then adopted in January 2017 (Deutsche Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie) to support the 2030 Agenda (Agenda 2030 für nachhaltige Ziele). The German government also involved the public, including young people aged 18-35 years, both directly and online when developing its Climate Action Plan 2050 (Klimaschutzplan 2050).

The national steering platform for the implementation of the Global Action Programme Education for Sustainable Development (Weltaktionsprogramm Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung) includes an expert forum on 'Non-formal and informal learning/youth' with representatives of various youth organisations. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung) has overall control.

Since 2012 and the start of the UN Decade on Biodiversity, youth goodwill ambassadors (UN-Dekade Botschafter/-innen) have been chosen by the Federal Environment Ministry (Bundesumweltministerium). Their role is to spread word of the goals of the UN Decade on Biodiversity, take part in discussions and share their passion for biodiversity.

In the UNICEF Youth Council (UNICEF-Juniorbeirat), children and young people advise UNICEF Germany on programmes and projects. Since 2016, UNICEF has also given young people the opportunity to get involved in various programmes designed to build a better future for children and young people worldwide.

The Action Alliance for International Recognition (Aktionsbündnis Anerkennung International) advocates the recognition of skills acquired in international youth work contexts. The Action Alliance organises a variety of activities (such as a campaign day for international youth exchanges on 8 June 2017) to demonstrate the benefits of international youth work for young people and society at large.  The Action Alliance has launched the #internationalheart campaign to highlight the many facets of international youth exchanges and to demonstrate the values the Alliance stands for.

At federal state level, for example, the youth advisory boards of youth initiatives created under the sustainability strategies in Baden-Württemberg (Wir ernten was wir säen, Jugendbeirat) give young people a platform to talk about sustainable action with representatives from politics, academia, business and civil society. In 2013 and 2014, the state of Brandenburg carried out youth fora (Jugendforum) when developing and further implementing its sustainability strategy.

When implementing its development policy, the state of Bremen set up a young development forum (junges entwicklungspolitisches Forum, Jep) in 2015 to get young people more involved in local development cooperation.

Global issues exchanges with policy-makers at the international level

Each year, two Youth Delegates (Jugenddelegierte) go with the delegation of the German federal government to the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. They represent the interests of young people together with Youth Delegates from other countries. The German UN Youth Delegates take part in the meeting of the Commission on Social Development (CSocD) as representatives of non-governmental organisations. Youth Delegates in Germany are appointed for one year. They go through an application and selection process. The Youth Delegate programme is supported by the United Nations Association of Germany (Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Vereinten Nationen) and the German National Committee for International Youth Work (Deutsches Nationalkomitee für internationale Jugendarbeit, DNK).

DNK represents German youth organisations in a multilateral context: in the Lake Constance-Benelux-plus partnership (Bodensee-Benelux-plus-Kooperation), the European Youth Forum, the youth forum of the European Union, the Baltic Youth forum (Ostsee-Jugendforum) and the Council of Europe. The committee is made up of the German Federal Youth Council (Deutscher Bundesjugendring), German Sports Youth (Deutscher Sportjugend) and the Council of Political Youth Organisations (Ring Politischer Jugend).

The Youth Delegates on Sustainable Development (Jugenddelegierte für nachhaltige Entwicklung) work with the programme initiator, the Federal Environment Ministry (Bundesumweltministerium, BMU). They cooperate closely with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ). The Youth Delegates join the German government delegation to the UN negotiations on sustainable development and the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. The programme is backed by the German Federal Youth Council (Deutscher Bundesjugendring, DBJR).

Germany regularly sends representatives to the EU Youth Conferences that are organised in connection with the EU Council Presidencies, as for example to the 2020 EU Youth Conference under the German EU Presidency. The point of contact for this is the German Federal Youth Council (Deutscher Bundesjugendring, DBJR). The youth representatives are expected to raise issues that are of concern to young people with the aim of encouraging a more active dialogue between young people and politicians.

In the past, young Germans have also taken part in the youth summits organised in the lead up to the G7/G8 and G20 government summits. They provided a young person's perspective on the political agenda at the government summit and called for a youth-specific view. In 2022, the Y7 Summit was hosted by Germany and young people discussed the themes of Sustainable & Green Planet, Economic Transformation for Shared Progress, Resilience of Democracies, Global Health & Solidarity. Between 9 and 14 June 2019 the Y7 youth summit took place in Paris, the counterpart event of the G7 summit. The German delegation met up with their peers from the other G7 countries to agree on specific calls for action concerning the priority themes of the Y7 summit. The G20 summit took place in Germany in 2017. Young people met up beforehand for the J20 youth summit in Berlin where they sat down with former Chancellor Angela Merkel and discussed their proposals. In 2015, young people from all over the world met for the international Y7 youth summit in Berlin with the guiding theme 'Responsibility to act“ (Verantwortung zu handeln). They discussed what their governments and they themselves can do for sustainable development and then drafted a position paper with their results which they presented to and discussed with former Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Manuela Schwesig.

German youth delegations also take part in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Climate Change Conference.

Bundesländer (federal states)

Since 2001, the North Rhine-Westphalian state government has been inviting young people from Germany, Poland and France to take part in a trilateral youth summit (Bund.Europa.Internationales: Weimarer Dreieck). The summit rotates each year between the Hauts-de-France region of France, Silesia in Poland, and North Rhine-Westphalia. The young participants work on a current European issue and engage in a dialogue with politicians from the three regions. Topics of the youth exchanges were also zero waste, recycling and environmental degradation. The 2019 event was all about diversity in practice and social cohesion (title: “Gelebte Vielfalt – Engagement für sozialen Zusammenhalt”). The International Association for Education and Exchange (Internationale Bildungs- und Begegnungswerk, IBB) in Dortmund supports and guides young people from North Rhine-Westphalia on behalf of the state government.