9.1 General context
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Policy-related global issues such as climate change, green production and consumption, human rights, and international development are summarised under the term of sustainable development, which is an important concept within the Luxembourgish policy.
Policy on sustainable development aims at horizontal solidarity with regard to poor people and a vertical solidarity between the present and future generations. It includes policies in the domains of environmental, economic, social and democratic issues (Le Gouvernement du Grand-Duché du Luxembourg, 2019).
Youth interest in global issues
There are only few and no current data available on trends and developments in young people's interest or participation in global issues.
The report 'Sustainable Development from the Perspective of Young People' (Nachhaltige Entwicklung aus der Sicht von Jugendlichen; Faber & Boll, 2010), prepared and published by researchers from the University of Luxembourg, presents the results of the only comprehensive study for Luxembourg on motivation, knowledge, competences and behaviour of young people in the domain of sustainable development.
A more recent study on Luxembourgish pupils in secondary education shows, that sustainability is a relevant issue for them (Rohles & Backes, 2021). The interest in ecological issues is relatively high among pupils, followed by social and political issues. With regard to interest in sustainability and also sustainable behaviours, the results of the study corroborate the results of the Faber and Boll (2010) report. Further research on the European level investigates on young people's opinions about global issues more generally (for instance Eurobarometer). The explanations of the following articles will mainly be based on the results of three studies.
View on global issues and sustainable development
Faber and Boll (2010) consider several questions concerning the view of young people on sustainable development. The report highlights that more than 50% of the young interviewees worry about environmental pollution (60%) and raw material consumption affecting future generations (57.7%) as well as climate change (64.4%). Between 40 and 50% are concerned about immigration from developing countries (49.6%), animals and plants threatened by extinction (48.9%), pauperisation of poor countries (48.2%) and refugees from developing countries (48%). The lowest percentages occur for economic development of emerging markets (China, India) (37.2%) or for sharing affluence with developing countries (25.5%) (Faber & Boll, 2010, pp. 21-23).
According to Flash Eurobarometer European Youth (European Commission, 2018), for most respondents 'protection of the environment and fighting against climate change' should be a priority (55%), 'education and skills' (43%) takes second place and 'management of migratory flows and the integration of refugees' (42%) third place.
A Eurobarometer survey on attitudes regarding developement aid reveals that most young people in Luxembourg think it is important to partner with countries outside the EU to reduce poverty around the world (88%). Just under nine in ten (89%) of the young Luxembourgish respondents think it is important for the EU to tackle climate change and its effects in developing countries (European Commission, 2021).
These results prove the high ecological awareness among a large part of the young population in Luxembourg.
Participation in global issues initiatives
The Faber and Boll report (2010, pp. 46-47) analyses the regular participation of young people in organisations and in public actions. Concerning organisations, less than 5% of young people indicated that they were participating in Third World groups, environment or animal protection NGOs, human rights, or peace NGOs.
A stronger participation was observed for girls in comparison to boys: around 70% of those committed to the above-mentioned NGOs were girls (Faber & Boll, 2010, pp. 46-47; MFI, 2010, pp. 286-290).
Faber and Boll found that the mean percentage in all domains (environmental protection, north-south equity, peace, animal protection) for participation in public actions (signature campaigns, demonstrations, information desk, etc.) 'in any occasion' is 7.9%, whereas it is 22.8% for those participating 'sometimes' in this kind of actions (Faber & Boll, 2010, p. 48).
The Flash Eurobarometer European Youth (European Commission, 2018) examines the participation of adolescents and young adults (aged 15-30 years) in activities of various organisations. 6% of young people in Luxembourg said they participated in 'an organisation active in the domain of global climate change/global warming', whereas the mean value for the EU member states (including the UK) is 5%. 8% of young people in Luxembourg stated they were active in 'an organisation promoting human rights or global development', whereas the mean value for all the member states is 7%.
Evaluation of teaching methods
The evaluation of teaching methods by students shows that innovative teaching is not very widespread: Only a minority of young people have experienced subjects or projects being treated in a related way, have had discussions with civil society actors or have participated in out-of-school classrooms. When asked what their expectations concerning future education were, most of the young people wanted to acquire more competences and knowledge concerning sustainable development and wished for innovative teaching methods to be used more often (Faber & Boll, 2010, pp. 10-12, 51-58).
Faber and Boll also discussed the role of political and citizenship education in the schools of Luxembourg. According to Agenda 21, the action plan resulting from the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (1992), it is an undeniable fact that sustainable development needs the participation of citizens. Even if the Luxembourg government (according to its government programme) has recognised the necessity of citizenship education and of an opening of the educational system towards society, there is still a need for action, especially for revising school curricula (Faber & Boll, 2010, pp. 63-65).
Another study, the national report of the international ICCS study (International Civic and Citizenship Education Study; Ministry of Education and Vocational Training & University of Luxembourg, 2010), analysed the knowledge, values, attitudes and behaviour in the domain of civic education and citizenship of grade 8 pupils (mean age in Luxembourg: 14.6 years). Pupils were asked to participate in a cognitive test and to respond to a questionnaire. Teachers were also asked to fill in a questionnaire about their perception of citizenship education. The study observed that 17% of teachers had participated with their classes in environmental protection activities at school (compared to a mean value of 49% for all the countries) and 22% had participated in activities related to human rights (compared to 30%) (Ministry of Education and Vocational Training & University of Luxembourg, 2010, pp. 5, 8, 13, 42-43).