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EACEA National Policies Platform


9. Youth and the World

9.6 Intercontinental youth work and development cooperation

Last update: 25 August 2022
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  1. Intercontinental youth work cooperation
  2. Development cooperation activities

Intercontinental youth work cooperation

International youth work is enshrined in law in Article 11 of Book VIII of the Social Code – Child and Youth Services (Available in German) and, according to the Child and Youth Plan of the federation (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes) forms an integral part of child and youth services. It offers learning spaces in which young people and experts from various countries can connect with one another and exchange experiences. International youth work is to promote mutual understanding, tolerance and openness, as well as intercultural learning, the assumption of responsibility, civic commitment and foreign language skills.

Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ)

BMFSFJ is the national body responsible for international youth and expert exchanges, including with countries outside of Europe. The funding instrument is the  Child and Youth Plan of the federation (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes, KJP). Funding is available to child and youth services organisations and their alliances at federal (national) level for programmes to implement bilateral agreements, international agreements or EU regulations, or as part of the government's foreign cultural and educational policy in Germany or abroad, or for fixed-term activities, especially under mutually beneficial bilateral or multilateral programmes. The federal budget (KJP, title 684 01) provides means for international youth work programmes (Bundeshaushalt), thereof means for bilateral programmes, including programmes with e.g. China and Japan.

  • Programmes funded with countries outside of Europe

German-Japanese exchange programme for young volunteers (Deutsch-Japanisches Austauschprogramm).

  • Target group: Young volunteers between 18 and 26 (e.g. in the voluntary fire brigade, community, sports clubs, guides/scouts).
  • Activities: Visits to youth organisations, specialist talks, debate sessions with young volunteers in Japan (and in Germany on return visits), host family weekend.
  • Funding: KJP (special Japan programme), participants' own funds, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

German-Japanese study programme for experts from child and youth services (Jugendpolitische Zusammenarbeit mit Japan).

  • Target group: Experts from child and youth services.
  • Activities: Expert talks, project visits and debate sessions in Japan (and in Germany on return visits), workshops to dig deeper into the topic, host family stay.
  • Funding: KJP (special Japan programme), participants' own funds, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

German-Chinese expert exchange (Jugendpolitische Zusammenarbeit mit China).

  • Target group: Experts from child and youth services.
  • Activities: Expert dialogue and development of collaborative projects.
  • Funding: KJP (special China programme), participants' own funds, the All-China Youth Federation.

See also Administration and Governance > Cross-sectorial cooperation

See also Youth Wiki > Youth Policy Governance > Cross-border cooperation in the youth field > International cooperation

Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt, AA)

AA runs additional one-off programmes – for example, together with the Pedagogical Exchange Service Office (Pädagogischer Austauschdienst) – to support international youth exchange as part of Germany's foreign cultural and educational policy. Specific regions and countries for which youth exchange programmes are given preferential backing: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Australia, Belarus, Brazil, China, United Kingdom, India, Indonesia, Cuba, Mexico, Namibia, East Africa, Russia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Ukraine, United States, Vietnam and Cyprus, as well as the countries in Southeast Europe. The federal states are responsible for international school exchanges.

Additionally, since 2011, the Federal Foreign Office has been supporting the process of democratisation in the Arab world as part of a transformation partnership (Transformationspartnerschaft). Priority countries: Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Iraq and Egypt. Funding is also available for youth and expert exchanges in the area of youth (welfare) services.

The Federal Foreign Office also funds the 'kulturweit' international cultural voluntary service. See also Voluntary Activities > Cross-Border Mobility Programmes > Other Programmes

The foundation for exchanges between east and west (Stiftung West-Östliche Begegnungen) promotes international understanding and peace by intensifying and expanding good neighbourly relations and contacts between Germans and people from the foundation's partner countries. These are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Funding priorities: School exchanges and school partnerships, youth exchanges, art and culture, bringing citizens together and social and humanitarian aid. The foundation receives funding from the Federal Foreign Office.

Development cooperation activities

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ) funds a range of programmes, including formal and non-formal development policy information and education activities, development exchanges and volunteer programmes, and development projects by private German organisations. A key target group is young people. Funds have been earmarked in the federal budget 2020 [plan 23 Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development]:

  • Development policy education funding: 45 million euros.
  • Development policy exchanges and volunteer programmes: 47 million euros.
  • Funding for development-related projects by private German organisations: 301 million euros.

Engagement Global gGmbH – Service for Development Initiatives (Service für Entwicklungsinitiativen) is the central body responsible for implementing the BMZ development policy information and education activities. See 9.4 Information providers

Programmes looked after by Engagement Global:

  • Programme for Action Groups (Aktionsgruppenprogramm, AGP) – Funding for small projects on development policy information and education activities The AGP programme awards grants of up to 2 000 euros to help people in schools and initiatives wishing to broaden and pass on their knowledge of One World interconnectedness. Target group: Schools, child day care centres, action groups and volunteer initiatives that focus on development policy topics.
  • School Exchange Programme for Development Education (Entwicklungspolitisches Schulaustauschprogramm, ENSA) ENSA provides advice and funding for school partnerships between secondary schools in Germany and countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Southeast Europe. Target group: Young people aged 14 and over from secondary schools in Germany and the partner countries.
  • 'weltwärts' – development volunteer programme weltwärts was launched in Germany in 2008. Placements can be in developing or emerging countries. Focus areas/topics: Education, work with children and young people, environment and health, environmental protection and animal welfare, agriculture, human rights, democracy and peace. Target group: Young people between 18 and 28. An incoming mechanism called the 'South-North exchange' (Süd-Nord-Komponente) was also introduced in 2013. Young people from the Global South take part in volunteer programmes in Germany. See also Voluntary Activities > Cross-Border Mobility Programmes > Other Programmes
  • Funding line: 'weltwärts – extracurricular exchange projects in the context of Agenda 2030' (weltwärts – Außerschulische Begegnungsprojekte im Kontext der Agenda 2030) Launched as part of the African-German Youth Initiative (Deutsch-Afrikanischen Jugendinitiative) in 2016. The aim is to promote international youth work and global education on development policy and encourage dialogue on sustainability goals. Key areas: Youth exchange, support projects, pilot projects. Target group: Young people aged 16 to 30.
  • Work and Study Exchanges programme (ASA-Programm) This programme funds project placements in countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Southeast Europe, as well as seminars on diversity and conflict resolution skills and group and project work methods. The ASA network invites all participants to reflect on their personal learning processes. ASA includes a basic programme for students and young professionals as well as special programmes. Participants receive partial funding. Target group: For young Germans aged between 21 and 30; young people (up to the age of 35) from countries in the Global South (north-south tandems go through the seminar, project and reflection phase jointly; the project phase includes a placement in Germany and a stay in the home country of the participant from the Global South). The ASA programme works with a range of partners, including international cooperation and civic organisations, community stakeholders, companies and commercial organisations, and universities.

Bread for the World (Brot für die Welt) funds ecumenical exchange programmes (ökumenische Begegungsprogramme) between partnership groups (north-south and south-north), provided the programmes are integrated into long-term development policy education programmes. Bread for the World is funded by BMZ, donations and collection proceeds, as well as by the Churches' Development Service (Kirchlicher Entwicklungsdienst).

Federal states (Bundesländer)

Development cooperation is the responsibility of the federal government and the 16 federal states. They maintain diverse development policy relations and promote the implementation of Agenda 2030 for sustainable development through partnerships with cities, regions and countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Overview of development policy relations of the German federal states, contacts and responsible institutions (Deutsche Länder in der Entwicklungspolitik).

Examples of youth programmes:

  • Programme: 'Youth for development cooperation' (Jugend für Entwicklungszusammenarbeit) in Brandenburg. Aim: Education and work projects in Africa, Asia or Latin America to meet young people and engage in dialogue. Target group: Young people between 18 and 27. Activities: Help with development or charitable projects. Funding: Federal State of Brandenburg. Individuals living in Brandenburg can apply.
  • Programme: NRW peace service (Konkreter Friedensdienst NRW) Aim: To strengthen social awareness and look at global development disparities. Target group: Young people between 18 and 25 (in exceptional cases up to 27) living in North Rhine-Westphalia. Activities: Project placements in a range of areas, from helping street children to working in a rural hospital to working with children with disabilities. Funding: Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
  • Programme: School partnerships as part of the twinning agreement between Rhineland-Palatinate and Rwanda (Schülerreisen nach Ruanda) Aim: Exchanges between Rwandan and German pupils and a change of perspective. Target group: Pupils aged 14 and above. Activities: Project day at/with the partner school, dialogue on related programme items. Funding: Federal State of Rhineland-Palatinate from the exchange budget of the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of the Interior (Ministerium des Innern). Grant for German pupils visiting Rwanda: 200 euros per person.
Development policy work in Germany

Development policy work in Germany is also funded by the federal states, e.g. by Baden-Württemberg through the through a support programme for development policy education projects by the name of bwirkt! (Förderprogramm bwirkt!) and by Bavaria (environment education/education for sustainable development) (Umweltbildung/Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung).

Development policy education days take place annually in each federal state, e.g.

  • Saarland development policy education days (EPOBITS). 2020:  1 September to 2 October. An interactive programme of activities lasting several weeks. One World topics and engagement for a more peaceful, just and sustainable global community are presented to the wider public.
  • Brandenburg development policy education and information days (BREBIT). 2020: 12 February in Berlin. Specifically for children and young people to teach the knowledge and skills needed to think globally and act locally.
  • Saxony development policy education days (SEBIT). 2019: 1 to 30 November. Target group: School classes, youth groups, adult groups, educators, general public. The events in 2019 focus on global economic structures (“Ökonomie - weltweit wirtschaften”). In future, SEBIT plans to phase out school events and instead focus mainly on events for adults. The aim is to strengthen development education for adults in Saxony. School events will be managed largely by aha-anders handeln e.V./Bildungsstelle Globales Lernen.
  • Thuringia development policy education days (THEBIT). Take place every year. Provide a range of educational events spread over the year for global education in schools and in non-formal education.