Developing sustainable and environmentally friendly projects is a key priority of the Erasmus plus programme.

The youth sector has been at the forefront of developing good practice in the area of sustainability and this is not a trend that is new to the sector; it is something that has been developing for many years, but it is true that in recent years there’s has been much more of a policy focus and, following that increased funding.

As the EU-CoE Youth Partnership Exploratory Study: Sustainability in Learning Mobility points out:

“The youth sector has been active in the sustainability field for many years. There are numerous initiatives coming from the grass roots….. Non-governmental organisations have been developing sustainable practices, among them learning mobility ones, since long before specific policy strategies were published. However, in 2021, major EU programmes providing funds for learning mobilities in Europe, Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps, introduced a new priority focusing on the environment and fighting against climate change, which has already boosted initiatives devoted to this topic.”

The study goes on to lay out some examples of youth-led organisations who are working extensively on the topic of sustainability.

A journey to sustainable, quality youth mobility

Whilst it’s clear that there’s work to be done in further mapping and spreading good green practices in learning mobility, it’s also evident that young people don’t need to be persuaded on this front. Their activism is changing minds and policies, but more needs to be done, both on a practical level and on embedding the topic in youth work and in citizenship education.

On a practical level, when developing youth mobility projects, there are many ways to build in greener practices. The Q!App has plenty of “food for thought” and tips in this area, see for example, its preparation plan for more environmentally friendly projects.

Build Best Practices

To ensure youth mobility activities follow good practice when it comes to sustainability, the Youth Partnership between the EU and the Council of Europe has published a handy guide:

  • “Greening the Youth Sector – Sustainability checklist” which lays out some key criteria for making youth projects, including mobility projects “greener” – from venues and accommodation – checklist etc, through to food, waste and, of course, travel – the document gives top tips on ensuring a lower impact on the environment and embedding good practice in organisations. But, as it states in the publication, the youth sector still has a way to go on its journey to becoming greener: “Environmental awareness and thinking sustainably are part of a continuous process of learning, innovating and (re)creating.