9.5 Green volunteering, production and consumption
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The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) funds volunteer programmes, including ones in ecological areas. BMFSFJ funds the Federal Volunteer Service (Bundesfreiwilligendienst, BFD), which can be environment-related, and the Voluntary Ecological Year (Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr, FÖJ). The Voluntary Ecological Year can be in the area of conservation, environmental protection or environmental education. It is managed at a federal state level. The organisations providing the volunteer programmes are mostly youth, environment (protection) and nature (conservation) associations or church organisations. They are recognised places of work for the Voluntary Ecological Year. The Voluntary Ecological Year can also be done abroad.
Information on BFD and FÖJ can be found under Voluntary activities
Environmental activities are often included and even the focus of international workcamps in Germany and abroad and are paid for from public funds (Child and Youth Plan of the federation [Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes], regional youth plans [Landesjugendpläne]). At the workcamps, young people from different countries work together in small groups on a charitable project. The camps are between two and four weeks long.
Fridays for Future
Fridays for Future is a global social movement launched by school students to fight for as comprehensive, fast and effective a set of climate protection measures as possible, so as to achieve compliance with the 1.5 °C target agreed at the 2015 UN Climate Conference (COP 21) in Paris. In Germany, the Fridays for Future movement is recognised as an association of persons without legal capacity and sees itself as a grassroots democratic movement.
Fridays for Future regularly organises (global) climate strikes, climate camps and regional meetings in local groups. Between 8 and 12 August, Fridays for Future organised the big Fridays for Future Summer Congress 2023 in Lüneburg; its motto was ‘Climate Justice Now!’. The congress is for young Fridays for Future activists and school children of all ages.
The federal government and the federal states fund programmes, initiatives and projects to promote sustainable production and consumption. The ministries for education, nutrition, agriculture, energy, environment, transport and consumer protection are responsible at a national and state level.
Basic information about sustainable consumption is available (in German only) on the website of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, nukleare Sicherheit und Verbraucherschutz, BMUV).
In 2016, the federal government adopted a National Programme for Sustainable Consumption (Nationales Programm für nachhaltigen Konsum) as part of its general strategy to improve sustainability.The programme aims to promote sustainable consumption from niche to mainstream practices and improve the consumption competencies of consumers, including children and young people. The extended programme (2021) defined new quantifiable measures and consumption-related targets for mobility, housing and household, nutrition, work and office, clothing as well as leisure and tourism.
The Competence Centre for Sustainable Consumption (Kompetenzzentrum Nachhaltiger Konsum), which is run by the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt), supports the implementation of the programme. This is where state actions and initiatives are brought together. The aim of the national network of the Competence Centre is to involve groups in society in the implementation of the programme as effectively as possible. The network strengthens interdisciplinary and practice-oriented dialogue, cooperation between actors and dissemination of best practices.
Examples of government-supported/implemented projects
'Too good for the bin!' initiative (Zu gut für die Tonne!) of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, BMEL):
- Aim: In part to bring attention to the value of food and the effects of being wasteful. The focus is on handling and storing food and leftovers.
- Target group: All parts of the population, especially pupils in years 3 to 9 (school material, information).
- Key programmes/outcomes: Programmes and campaigns to reduce food loss and waste.
- Funding: Federal government.
Sustainable swaps game 'Meat or bicycle?' (Fleisch oder Fahrrad?) by the German Youth Hostel Association (Deutsches Jugendherbergswerk, DJH) and the Council for Sustainable Development (Rat für Nachhaltige Entwicklung)
- Aim: To get young people to think about sustainable consumption.
- Target group: Young people aged 14 to 19.
- Key programmes/outcomes: 90 youth hostels across Germany have integrated the game into their education programme and introduce young people to the issue.
- Funding: Federal government, DJH funds.
'Jam for all!' (Marmelade für Alle!) campaign by the Federation of Protestant Youth in Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Evangelischen Jugend in Deutschland) against food wastage
- Aim: To raise awareness of the importance and value of food.
- Target group: Interactive project for youth groups, children, cross-generational.
- Key programmes/outcomes: At places where fruit remains unharvested, ask whether it can be taken for free and make jams, juices etc. for use in spare time, in seminars and group gatherings. Unused products are sold or swapped at fairs.
- Funding/support: Federal government, Bread for the World (Brot für die Welt).
The Sustainable Shopping Basket (Der Nachhaltige Warenkorb) is offered by the German Council for Sustainable Development (Rat für Nachhaltige Entwicklung) and is a guide to environmentally-conscious and social consumption practices. Its goal is to push forward the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Germany. The guide demonstrates sustainable consumption options and offers useful rules of thumb for specific consumption decisions.
The website provides information on food, travel and mobility, housing and construction, household and electronics, and fashion and cosmetics, among other things. The Sustainable Shopping Basket can be used in different ways. In addition to the website, it is available in the form of ten theme-based flyers and as an activity game. The game specifically targets young people to encourage them to adopt more sustainable consumer behaviours. Ninety youth hostels in Germany have included the game in their educational programme, and teachers can book it to use during class visits.
The project week on sustainable consumption (Projektwoche nachhaltiger Konsum, PDF 1.86 MB) organised by the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut) presents good practice examples and guidelines for teachers. The project week was developed in cooperation with a school in Munich and was funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, nukleare Sicherheit und Verbraucherschutz, BMUV).
Federal states (Bundesländer)
An initiative by churches, non-governmental organisations and contributors to One World work, the 'NRW mobile phone campaign' (Handy-Aktion NRW) collects old phones for proper recycling. People interested in taking part can hold their own collection drives – for example in the church community, in youth work, at school or at work. Free collection boxes, posters, flyers and other materials can be ordered. The proceeds from the campaign go to projects in South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Philippines. The SÜDWIND Institute provides fact sheets on the effects of the extraction of natural resources for use in mobile phones.
The State Chancellery of Saarland (Staatskanzlei Saarland) initiated the sustainability and information campaign 'Responsibility and sustainability – do your bit' (Verantwortung und Nachhaltigkeit. Mach mit!). Old mobile phones are collected to set an example about the conservation of natural resources. Target groups include all secondary schools, primary school years 3 and 4, other educational institutions, social, environmental, youth and senior citizen associations, cities and local communities, and other associations and institutions.
Other contributors helping to motivate young people to support green production and sustainable consumption can be found at the German portal on the UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development bne-portal.de.