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EACEA National Policies Platform


9. Youth and the World

9.4 Raising awareness about global issues

Last update: 27 January 2021


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. Examination specifications may cover global issues; for example,pupils studying for the Welsh Baccalaureate must study units within the Wales, Europe and the World framework (Welsh Government, 2013), which covers topics including active citizenship; social enterprise;encouraging sustainability; exploring alternative technology; recycling; 'greening' businesses; and global food sources.

Non-formal learning

Non-formal learning opportunities and resources supporting young people's knowledge and understanding of global issues include the following examples:

  • The Council for Education in World Citizenship offers young people a range of programmes to learn about and debate global issues, including running a model united nations, delivering talks related to global citizenship and sustainable development and organising a global citizenship conference aimed at teaching pupils about global food challenges.
  • Eco-Schools is an awards programme aimed at raising awareness of environmental issues among school children, managed by Keep Wales Tidy and funded by the Welsh Government. Schools enrolled on the programme follow seven steps, ensuring that the initiative is pupil-led and involves hands-on, real-life world learning. Pupils 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.
  • 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

In 2016-17, 64 projects related to European and/or international issues were run by organisations in the youth work sector, as outlined by a StatsWales publication.

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'.

Organisations such as Volunteering Wales and #iwill 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. 

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. 

For more information about this organisation, please see 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 include the Global Learning Programme Wales, a network of schools across Wales which aims to equip its pupils to make a positive contribution to a globalised world; and the Wales Alliance for Global Education, a group of organisations working to ensure that the education system supports Wales to become informed about social justice, contributing to a sustainable future for all. The Global Learning Programme is funded by the UK Government's Department for International Development, while the Alliance for Global Education receives funding from the Welsh Government.

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 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 Oxfam; world 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

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.

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.


Further campaigns aimed at young people on global issues have been launched in Wales, including:

  • the Schools Campaign Network from UNICEF UK, which is free for primary and secondary schools to join, giving pupils the resources to take action by creatively raising awareness in their school community, speaking with local politicians and signing petitions related to child rights
  • People and planet, which is a network of student campaigns working to defend human rights, protect the environment and alleviate world poverty; the organisation offers training, outreach and resources to groups and campaigns based at schools, colleges and universities across the UK.

Information providers

See links above.

Key initiatives

See links above.