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Ireland’s first National Policy Framework for children and young people is Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, 2014-2020. The framework, targeting 0- to 24-year-olds, includes the desire that all children and young people in Ireland should be ‘Connected, respected and contributing to their world’. It states that children and young people should be supported and encouraged to both play a full role in society and to recognise that they themselves can heavily influence their own lives now and in the future. The framework also states that young people should ‘be civically engaged, socially and environmentally conscious, and […] aware of their rights as well as being responsible and respectful of the law’ (pp. 6). The framework is discussed further in Chapter 1 Youth Policy Governance.
Education for Sustainable Development is defined as ‘what you learn in school to make the world a fairer and better place for everyone’. This child friendly explanation of education for sustainable development, was developed by The Department of Education, in collaboration with Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth’s Citizen Participation Unit. The definition was informed by the National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development; UNESCO; Global Education Network Europe; and The World We Want: A Guide to the Goals for Children and Young People.
Youth interest in global issues
The Irish Government does not currently specifically monitor young people's awareness of, or interest in, global issues.
GenZ Index is a three-part research investigating Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2009) in Ireland. The first part of the research report, Genz Index: Initial Findings (Young Social Innovators and Amárach Research, 2019), reported asking participants which of several issues they would you see themselves contributing their time to:
- Climate change
- Depression or Anxiety
- School or exam stress
- Being different (diversity)
- Fear or anxiety about the future
- Sex education
- Drugs or Alcohol
- Cyber bullying
- Terrorism or Conflict
Climate change was ranked as the first, of these issues, which respondents (64%) saw themselves contributing most of their time towards. Participants were also asked to select what they personally considered the greatest sign of a successful life, from:
- Making a difference to your community/world
- Being financially secure
- Loving your job
- Being a good parent
- Owning your own home
- Having good friends
- Being happy/good mental health
- Having a loving partner/good relationships
Making a difference to your community/world was the highest selected response (39%).
A Generation for Change
A Generation for Change: Spotlight Report on Young People, the Sustainable Development Goals and Ireland was written by Ireland’s UN youth Delegates and published by the National Youth Council of Ireland in 2018. The report details issues affecting young people at a local and global level; how these issues relate to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and Ireland’s commitments in relation to these. Generation for Change’s summary report lists key messages as that:
- Young people want Government to recognise their potential to be a force for good in Ireland and in the world. They want Government and the international community to allow them to play an active role in achieving the SDGs.
- Young people want the Government to tackle poverty (including homelessness) in Ireland and internationally.
- Young people want Ireland to mainstream the SDGs throughout all Government action and policies. Young people want Ireland to be a leader internationally and help other states achieve the SDGs to ensure that no one around the world is left behind, reaching the furthest behind first.
- The role of education will be central to Ireland and the world achieving the SDGs by 2030. Young People are calling on Government to recognise the importance of SDG 4.7 in providing educational opportunities to better understand the world in which we live, our role in society, and support our empowerment to bring about change at personal, local, national, and global level.