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EACEA National Policies Platform


9. Youth and the World

9.4 Raising awareness about global issues

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 11/11/2020 - 20:19

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

Formal learning

There is no national curriculum for students in upper-secondary education (ages 16-19): this phase of education is characterised by choice and subject specialisation, with students free to take any combination of subjects offered by the school or college they attend. Examination specifications may cover global issues; for example, climate change and green issues may be included in science subjects. 

Non-formal learning

The following organisations offer non-formal learning opportunities and resources for young people:

  • Young Citizens, inspire young people to take an active part in society. Young Citizens runs a number of programmes such as the Democracy Ambassadors Programme, which trains 1,000 Democracy Ambassadors aged 13-16 to promote youth participation in democratic processes. The foundation also provides teaching materials relating to citizenship education, including Migration and Brexit. It receives funding from a number of organisations, including public funding from the UK Government via the Cabinet Office, and works across the whole of the UK.
  • Oxfam GB offers initiatives including Schools for Future Youth. This project receives funding from the EU and provides a number of resources related to global citizenship education and opportunities for young Oxfam ambassadors to communicate with their peers across Europe.
  • The International Citizen Service supports young people aged 18-25 to gain skills and experience by undertaking a voluntary placement in another country. The organisation fosters an awareness of international or global affairs and issues in young people.

Informal learning

For examples of informal learning available in the areas of green production and consumption and climate change, see the subheading 'Green volunteering' in the article on 'Green volunteering, production and consumption'.

The UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) is a voluntary group of 18-29 year old’s that offers informal learning opportunities through campaigning to challenge the roots of social and climate injustice. The UKYCC organises campaigns and has attended UN Climate negotiations. During the general election in 2019, the UKYCC campaigned for a climate nature debate as part of the political parties’ campaigns. 

Organisations such as #iwill and V inspired may also include informal learning opportunities related to global issues. Moreover, programmes run by ICS Youth Volunteering support young people to undertake volunteering projects abroad. For more information about this organisation, please see the article entitled 'Cross-border mobility programmes' in the Chapter on 'Voluntary Activities'.

Educators' support

There are many resources on offer to teachers and youth workers for continuous learning and development related to the promotion of global issues among young people. Notable examples are the resources and training programmes for schools and youth workers from Think Global. This organisation, which manages programmes on behalf of the Department for International Development and the EU, also provides access to the Global Learning Programme, which aims to equip young people to make a positive contribution to a globalised world.

Additionally, the International School Award from the British Council formally recognises international work undertaken by schools. The award is made up of three levels which begin with the introduction of international activities to the school curriculum and supports schools to establish links with schools in other countries. This encourages schools to enrich their curriculum, improve their teaching, gain recognition for their international work, and become part of a global network of educators.

Many UK youth workers, and others with responsibility for young people’s non-formal learning, gain valuable professional development through involvement in collaborative projects with European and international partners, supported under Erasmus+. The organisation offers UK participants opportunities to take part in a youth exchange programme, a volunteering scheme or a teaching abroad project.

A range of public and private organisations also provide resources for teachers and youth workers in the UK, which include the following examples: teaching resources from Amnesty International; climate change activities from the Science Museum; an online teaching resource promoting global issues from the United Nations Association UK; materials relating to sustainable development from the World Wildlife Fund and Oxfamworld heritage materials for young people from UNESCO; resources related to the Sustainable Development Goals from Oxfam; and resources related to global issues from Y Care International.

The Youth Climate Summit 2020 is coordinated by the charity Global Action Plan and delivered through the collaboration of a large group of individuals and organisations on 9-13 November 2020. It is supported by the #iwill campaign, the National Lottery and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Transform Our World, a resource hub for teachers, provides timetables of events for primary and secondary schools and resources for teachers here.


Youth-targeted information campaigns on global issues


Major information campaigns initiated by the central government and public agencies aimed at promoting knowledge of global issues among young people include:

  • The 2019 Year of Green Action, as part of DEFRA’s 25 Year Environment Plan, saw the assignment of 50 young people as environment ambassadors as part of the #iwill4nature initiative. It aimed to embed youth social action in young people’s lives and encourage them to get involved in green projects in their school.
  • The 2015 Youth Summit, hosted by the Department for International Development (DFID), brought together young people from the UK and their peers from other countries to discuss global issues of shared concern. It was the second Youth summit organised by DFID and it was supported by a large-scale advocacy and information campaign involving young people.
  • Eco-Schools, an award programme aimed at raising awareness of environmental issues among school children, is managed in England by Keep Britain Tidy. Schools enrolled on the programme follow seven steps, ensuring that the initiative is pupil-led and involves hands-on, real-life world learning. Schools cover a number of topics which are linked to the curriculum, making changes to areas such as their waste collection, energy and water usage, and then monitor and assess their actions, earning awards as they complete each stage. Registration is free for schools, after which they receive regular newsletters and bulletins on regional and national information, funding and competitions.
  • Further campaigns aimed at young people have also been launched by charitable organisations in England, including People and planet, which is a network of student campaigns working to defend human rights, protect the environment and alleviate world poverty, offers training, outreach and resources to groups and campaigns based at schools, colleges and universities across the UK.

Information providers

Please see information above.

Key initiatives

Please see information above.