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EACEA National Policies Platform


9. Youth and the World

9.4 Raising awareness about global issues

Last update: 28 November 2023
On this page
  1. Formal, non-formal and informal learning
  2. Youth-targeted information campaigns on global issues
  3. Information providers
  4. Key initiatives

Formal, non-formal and informal learning

On 20 June 2017, the National Action Plan Education for Sustainable Development (Nationaler Aktionsplan Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung) was adopted. It defines 130 objectives and 349 measures to embed education for sustainable development in all areas (formal, non-formal and informal education) and at all levels of the education system. No new reports have been published since, but the programme is being developed on an ongoing basis.

Formal learning is a method of learning (in schools or courses) that is organised, guided and assessed. Non-formal and informal learning refers to all educational opportunities outside the formal education system, i.e. learning in everyday life, during leisure time, at home or at work. Informal learning can be planned or incidental.

Formal learning

Global education and education for sustainable development issues are cross-subject topics in a formal learning context. The Curriculum Framework: Education for Sustainable Development (Orientierungsrahmen für den Lernbereich Globale Entwicklung in der Schule) shows how the subjects are included in the school curriculum.

The Curriculum Framework is for all professionals working in or with schools. The framework (revised in 2016) is the result of a joint initiative of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ). It offers help with integrating education for sustainable development into school education and general school policy.

Federal state projects to implement the framework in different schools (including grammar schools and vocational colleges) (available in German). 

A map showing all state-level initiatives and projects relating to the framework as well as the location of all state-level coordinators in Germany (available in German).

Today, global education topics are included in curricula across disciplines. Examples of how these topics are integrated into lessons are listed here:

  • Global education / Education for Sustainable Development in schools in North Rhine-Westphalia
  • The global education portal (Globales Lernen) offers access to educational material, activities, projects, competitions, toolkits and topic-based educational kits
  • Welthaus Bielefeld offers teaching modules and projects
  • Fairbindung, an organisation based in Berlin, supports workshops, project days, seminars, training courses.

The ‘Grenzenlos / Across Boundaries project offered by the World University Service (WUS) introduces the subjects of globalisation and sustainability to vocational schools. Pupils learn from students from the Global South about how our consumer behaviour or professional decisions impact the lives of people in other regions of the world. Across Boundaries places students in the respective vocational schools. The project is funded by Engagement Global.

Vocational schools are also the focus of the ‘Sustainability at work – future-oriented training’ programme (Nachhaltig im Beruf – zukunftsorientiert ausbilden, NIB). With funding from the European Social Fund (ESF), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) hopes the programme will strengthen vocational training for sustainable development. The programme’s first funding guidelines were published at the beginning of 2023.

In addition, pupils and students learn about the work and structure of international formats like the United Nations in domestic and international simulations (Model United Nations, MUN).

Youth work organisations and schools cooperate to promote Education for Sustainable Development and global education. Examples:

  • With workshops on climate protection, climate justice and renewable energy, the educators at Youth of BUND (Bildungsagent:innen der BUNDjugend) help children and young people learn to be more environmentally aware.
  • „FAIR macht Schule!“ und „FAIRändere deine Stadt!“ are schemes run by the umbrella association for development policy of the state of Baden-Württemberg (Dachverband Entwicklungspolitik Baden-Württemberg e.V.) with activities for, amongst other things, class groups and project groups in all school types across the state from grade 8 onwards.
  • The development policy school exchange programme ENSA runs school partnerships that enable young people to see the world from a different perspective, to think globally and to act locally.
Non-formal and informal learning

Education for sustainable development is a task of all areas of non-formal education. A wide range of institutions and organisations are active in this area, including adult education centres, museums, clubs, foundations, churches, trade unions, businesses and (youth) associations. Target groups include the general public, and in particular children and young people, especially those from socially disadvantaged and/or migrant backgrounds.

The federal government funds the activities of child and youth services and programmes in non-formal child and youth work of supra-regional importance that a federal state cannot fund alone. The funding instrument is the Child and Youth Plan of the federation (Kinder- und Jugendplan, KJP). The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend) uses KJP to fund associations and expert organisations and their political, sports and cultural education programmes, youth organisation work and international youth work and youth exchange. The federal states fund these services via their regional youth plans (Landesjugendpläne).

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ) supports development policy information activities and education to promote civic commitment in Germany. In 2023, it developed the ‘Engagement worldwide’ strategy (‘Engagement weltweit’). The BMZ wants to encourage youth participation, in particular, and sees young people as important multipliers. It offers a comprehensive range of programmes for young people, including

The 'One World promoters' programme (Eine Welt-Promotor*innen) of the Association of One World Regional Networks in Germany stretches across all federal states and is coordinated and financed jointly at a national and regional level. It is for stakeholders and trainers from One World work and other areas of civil society, education, politics and business, as well as young people, the 50+ generation and interested members of the public. It is funded by Engagement Global on behalf of BMZ and all federal states.

Education meets Development (Bildung trifft Entwicklung, BtE) is a national programme run by a network of eight educational organisations. The programme focuses on global education that links global effects with the local 'lifeworlds' of participants. It is funded by Engagement Global on behalf of BMZ.

The German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) funds projects by associations working in environment protection and conservation. Their aim is to raise awareness of the environment and conservation and increase commitment to their protection. The projects also include child and youth projects with a large reach.

Programmes in the federal states

The state of Baden-Württemberg funds education programmes by charitable organisations under its funding initiative 'Model projects to educate on sustainable development' (Beispielhafte Projekte für eine Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung). The programmes should enable children, young people and adults to be an active part of ecological, sustainable, economically viable and socially just development while considering global aspects. Children and young people should also be encouraged and mobilised in line with the Global Action Programme Education for Sustainable Development (Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung).

The North Rhine-Westphalian development policy information and education programme (EpIB – Entwicklungspolitische Informations- und Bildungsarbeit) promotes projects by One World groups as part of development policy education.

The North Rhine-Westphalian environment ministry (Umweltministerium) launched a funding initiative in 2016 to help set up a regional network of non-formal environmental education institutions (available in German). The institutions support formal education and work, for example, with child day care centres, schools, universities and training providers.

Support for educators and trainers

In 2009, the German Rectors' Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, HRK) announced that the topic of sustainability would be integrated into teaching and research (available in German). There are stakeholders and groups at various universities across Germany who work with the content and methods of education for sustainable development. Examples:

Education for sustainable development is integrated into teacher training to differing levels in the various federal states (available in German). There are many training programmes available to trainers and educators, such as:

Non-governmental organisations can apply for money via the funding programme for development policy training (Programm zur Förderung entwicklungspolitischer Qualifizierungsmaßnahmen, PFQ) to carry out training measures for other non-governmental organisations or interested parties.

- Funding: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ).

- Realisation: Engagement Global gGmbH – Service for Development Initiatives (Service für Entwicklungsinitiativen).

- Funding for: One- or multiple-day seminars and series of seminars on development policy training. Topics: Reducing poverty, gender equality, participatory development and good governance, conservation of the environment and resources, crisis prevention, rural development, programme-based approaches and commercial development. Project applications can be submitted at any time but must be received at least 12 weeks before the project starts.


  • Develop-mental turn – Contributions to racism-critical, development policy education and public relations work by the Berlin Development Policy Council (Develop-mental Turn – Beiträge zu einer rassismuskritischen entwicklungspolitischen Bildungs- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit des Berliner Entwicklungspolitischen Ratschlags, BER), 2022
  • Expert guide to global education (Handbuch Globales Lernen für Referent_innen) by the development policy education and information centre in Berlin (Entwicklungspolitisches Bildungs- und Informationszentrum Berlin, EPIZ).
  • Global education magazine (Global Lernen) by Bread for the World (Brot für die Welt) on development policy issues; includes educational references and suggestions for lessons in secondary schools (Sekundarstufe II).
  • 'One world in schools' magazine (Eine Welt in der Schule) by the German association of primary schools (Grundschulverband) and the University of Bremen with practical teaching examples for primary schools and lower secondary schools relating to 'One world – global education – global development' (Eine Welt – Globales Lernen – Globale Entwicklung)



Youth-targeted information campaigns on global issues

The federal government and the federal states fund or support many different campaigns and action days on global issues, for example by funding projects, as for example the 'My Climate Protection' campaign (Mein Klimaschutz) supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz, BMWK). It includes an energy-saving champion competition (Energiesparmeister) for schools, which has been running since 2009. The competition is for pupils, groups of pupils and school projects and recognises outstanding approaches to climate protection and energy efficiency.

The Development education days in Saarland (Entwicklungspolitische Bildungstage im Saarland, EPOBITS) are for children and young people as well as for adults.

The national campaign "Aktion Tagwerk - Your commitment shows effect" has been organised by the Aktion Tagwerk association in Germany since 2007. Instead of going to school, pupils in years 1 to 13 either spend a day working, help out with family and friends, organise sponsored runs or arrange activities such as bake sales or plays. The proceeds go to worldwide education projects.

Every year on 20 November, terre des hommes carries out a 'Change your perspective – street child for one day' campaign (Sichtwechsel – Straßenkind für einen Tag). Children and young people learn about the rights of minors and the living conditions of street children.

Germany takes part in the Europe-wide Global Education Week (GEW). The events and campaigns help to make global education topics more visible. In Germany, the GEW is coordinated by the Information Centre Educational Mandate North-South (Informationsstelle Bildungsauftrag Nord-Süd) at the World University Service (WUS). The work of the Information Centre Educational Mandate North-South is funded by the federal government and states via the Funding Programme for Development Education in Germany (Förderprogramm Entwicklungspolitische Bildung, FEB).

Information providers

Under the EURODESK project, IJAB - International Youth Service of the Federal Republic of Germany (IJAB – Fachstelle für Internationale Jugendarbeit der Bundesrepublik Deutschland e.V.) informs and advises young people and experts on youth and expert exchanges.

Engagement Global gGmbH – Service for Development Initiatives (Service für Entwicklungsinitiativen) is the point of contact for development policy engagement in Germany and abroad. It is the central body responsible for implementing the development policy information and education activities of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ). Engagement Global:

  • provides information on current projects and programmes,
  • advises individuals and groups on development policy projects and provides financial support,
  • provides needs-based training,
  • brings together people and institutions,
  • supports civic and community engagement, private stakeholders and organisations.

The Information Centre Educational Mandate North-South (Informationsstelle Bildungsauftrag Nord-Süd) at the World University Service networks and informs about development education activities and global education. It is a project by the federal states and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ).

The Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung) and its regional offices also provide information on global education. The key topics are human rights, the environment, political education and sustainability.

The Youth Wiki chapter on Youth and the World offers an overview of actors and institutions that deal with global issues in the Administration and governance section.

Other information platforms:

  • – Information provided by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ) about global education in schools.
  • – Central portal for global education and education for sustainable development (joint project with EWIK).
  • – Portal of the German Commission for UNESCO with information on the UNESCO Global Action Programme “Education for Sustainable Development”.
  • – Information provided by Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland) for young people; includes curricular and extracurricular programmes on environmental topics and issues in the globalised world.
  • – 'OneWorldBlahBlah' youth portal (EineWeltBlaBla) on sustainability (EWIK project)
  • – Engagement Global project on the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
  • – Education platform provided by eight German development policy organisations with educational materials and information on education services relating to the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • – Internet site of the German-Polish Youth Office (Deutsch-Polnisches Jugendwerk) on education for sustainable development and its integration into international youth exchanges.
  • – Interactive multimedia platform by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz) with lesson materials for teachers on environmental issues and biodiversity.

Information in the federal states about global education and education for sustainable development:

Key initiatives

With the German Climate Initiative (Nationale Klimaschutzinitiative, NKI), the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz, BMWK) has been initiating and funding climate protection projects in schools and other educational institutions since 2008, including:

  • The climate bonus (Klimabonus) project (term: 2023-2026) promotes regional approaches to climate protection. As a form of currency, the climate bonus ensures that money remains in the area of climate protection, it rewards climate-friendly actions and informs companies, municipalities and residents about the issue.
  • The project ‘Experiencing climate protection together in a playful way’ (‘Raus! Gemeinsam spielerisch Klimaschutz erleben‘) (2023-2026) is developing a cross-media toolbox which families can use to educate themselves about climate protection.
  • The Climate Training project (KlimaAUSbildung) (2023-2026) brings the subject of climate protection to vocational schools.

The German Action Days on Sustainability (Deutsche Aktionstage Nachhaltigkeit) were launched by the Council for Sustainable Development (Rat für Nachhaltige Entwicklung) in 2012. They raise awareness of sustainable development across Germany. Action days on sustainability also take place in the individual federal states.

Focusing on 'From knowledge to sustainable action', the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) funds the annual Federal Environment Competition (Bundesumweltwettbewerb). This is a project-based contest for young people and young adults aged between 10 and 20. The aim is to encourage talented young individuals interested in the environment, sustainability and society.

The All for One World – One World for all (Alle für Eine Welt – Eine Welt für alle) school competition on development policy run by the Federal President (Bundespräsident) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ) aims to teach pupils about global diversity and sustainable action. It is held every two years. The theme of the current round for 2023/2024 is ‘Global change of policy: be the change yourself’ (Globaler Kurswechsel: Sei du selbst die Veränderung). Since 2015, the school competition has been accompanied by the song contest 'Your song for ONE WORLD' (Dein Song für EINE WELT!).

During the intercultural week (Interkulturelle Woche), various events provide information about integration, diversity and tolerance. Motto: Live together, grow together (“Zusammen leben, zusammen wachsen”). More than 600 municipalities and cities take part. The week is an initiative by the German Bishops' Conference (Deutsche Bischofskonferenz, DBK), the Evangelical Church in Germany (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, EKD) and the Greek Orthodox Church in Germany (Griechisch-Orthodoxe Metropolie) and has been running since 1975.

The CHAT of the WORLDS (Chat der Welten) is for all pupils at all schools. It combines global education with digital media to promote dialogue between pupils from the Global North and the Global South.