Read different perspectives on mobility in relation to Global Citizenship Education and youth work.

In this section, we want to give a definition of the term “Mobility” in the context of youth work and by looking at the “European Youth Goals” 1, as well as those of the United Nations, the  17 Sustainable Development Goals (1), which came into force on 1st January 2016 for 15 years (until 2030) and which inspired them. The main focus will be on youth mobility at local and international level by taking the examples of two youth associations/structures, and on the impact of mobility on climate change and possible solutions to reduce it in the framework of a non-formal education of the ecological transition (Education for Sustainable Development (2) ).

Definition of mobility as movement in space

The term mobility (3) gives the idea of movement from one place to another in a given situation, whether it is in the context of everyday life locally (to go to school, to work, to places of leisure…) but also on a one-off basis if we are talking about professional or international mobility. The word transport is one of the keywords in mobility.
A. Ecological transition in the context of mobility Mobility has a major impact on climate change. Since the industrial revolution, the various modes of transport for people and goods have evolved and developed: certain forms of transport, such as the car and then the plane, which were once considered “luxurious”, have become more democratic. Consumer society has also developed, particularly with the ease of shopping, transport of goods (deliveries) and fast fashion2.
99 % of the world's urban population breathe polluted air according to new world health organization air quality guidelines of PM2,5

Both facts have an impact on the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. Some people, including some young people, are victims of this rapid and cheap consumption, leading them to consume a lot and often. This leads to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere (transport of raw materials and delivery of parcels) as well as a massive production of waste (plastic, electrical appliances with programmed obsolescence, poor quality clothes from fast fashion…) which will be, for some, recycled, but also (re)sent to the Global South for a possible, but little reuse (4). Often, the objects in question are in such poor condition or in such immense quantities that the people on the spot cannot process them. This waste is then accumulated in open dumps, but also in the sea. All this contributes to air, water and land pollution, climate change, the deterioration of

human health (danger of these areas and the chemicals) and the extinction of animal species.
To reduce our environmental impact as regards transport, it is possible to find alternative solutions to the most CO2-intensive modes (plane, boat, car) by adopting, for example, public transport (train, tram, metro, bus), car-sharing systems, hitchhiking (rezopouce (5) as an example in France) or even cycling or walking for short distances, and avoiding as much as possible long distances on the globe. They are also called “soft” or “eco-friendly” mobility.
The adoption of these ways of moving around helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the first instance, but also to relieve congestion in towns and cities, to make places safer for road users and the city in general, to reduce noise pollution, to make the air healthier, and to save space for users (less parking, more playgrounds, parks, etc.). As young people are often dependent on public transport or their parents’ transport, they will
often keep the habits they developed as children when they become independent adults. It is therefore important to educate them on these subjects and to make them aware of their own travel habits (with their parents, in rural and urban areas) so that they in turn raise their relatives’ awareness, can take initiatives and then become responsible citizens as adults.
B. Migration and the impact of climate change on migration flows 
The term migration is also sometimes used to refer to a change of location due to, for example, conflict, famine, the need for labour, etc. On their way, migrants are confronted with obstacles related to their gender, financial means, age, state of health and ability to move, and the policies of their country of origin and of the countries they will have to cross. Thus, the borders of some countries are open to certain nationalities and not others (7).
In 1951, ratified by 145 States Parties, the Geneva Accords defined the status of migrants “forced” to leave their country in an emergency, the refugees, and set out the rights of the persons concerned, as well as the legal obligations of States to ensure their protection (8). Thus, a refugee is “a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” (9).
Infographic: 5895 Migrants lost their lives in 2021 - the deadliest year since 2017 for migrants.
Infographic: number of refugees outside their country of origin increased by 41% between 2015 and 2021. 216 per 100000 people in 2015 and 311 per 100000 people in mid-2021.
Currently, because of climate change, we can also talk about “climate refugees”, whose populations are most affected in the global South. Some populations are forced to leave their countries because of drought, natural disasters and rising water levels, making harvests more difficult and scarce and leading to famine and malnutrition. Rising sea levels (due to melting glaciers, icecap and violent weather patterns) are forcing the inhabitants of islands and coastlines to abandon them, as they are doomed to disappear.
three infographics first: sea level will rise 20 to 60 cm by the year 2100. second: drought estimated to displace 700 million people by 2030. Third: medium- to large scale disasters will increase 40% from 2015 to 2023.
Mobility thus encompasses a variety of issues, including economic, geographical, material, ecological, political and social.
The contexts in which this term is used are also of interest to us in youth work in popular education and particularly international youth work.
1 result of a Youth meeting in Sofia (250 young people), Bulgaria in 2017-18 organised by the European Union to collect the voice of 50,000 young people to create together the European Youth Strategy 2019-2027
2 The fact that clothing distributors bring out new lines every fortnight at low prices and that these are often manufactured by workers in precarious situations in countries of the global South..
Definition of mobility in youth work

Mobility is at the heart of young people’s travel problems. Depending on their socio-economic and geographical background and their physical and mental capabilities, their mobility will take on a different dimension.

It is important to understand the point of view of young people in our immediate environment and then to pass on to them the point of view of young people in the Global South, of which they may also be a part and to which they can bring their testimony. As an example of associations working with young people in Occitania, there are the “Maisons des Jeunes et de la Culture”(MJC), Houses of Youth and Culture in english, in Occitania. There are 150 MJC in Occitania with 70,000 members and 1,500 volunteers. They are present in towns and in the countryside.

The definition of mobility used by the MJCs generally reflects the issues at stake: for them and their members, it is mainly a question of travelling locally, freely and even autonomously (easy access), often on the home-school-MJC route.
Most of the young people in the MJC travel by soft mobility for those who live in the towns; in the countryside, they travel by car with their parents or by public transport. As the transport network is often underdeveloped (in the form of shuttles, school buses or links to the largest town, but not between neighbouring towns) and the distances are too great to be covered by bicycle or scooter, some MJCs also organise pick-ups by minibus to enable the majority to get to the activity sites. To encourage soft mobility, the territory is generally not adapted: few or no cycle paths, dangerous roads, distance from the public and employees.
This definition is then extended to the regional, cross-border (Spain, Andorra for Occitania), national and international levels.
In rural youth clubs, the difficulty is not only in accessing mobility linked to geography and the availability of transport networks, but also to a fear of going beyond their known environment, in a way a mental mobility limited by their own beliefs and fears of the unknown, thus limiting their choices of orientation at school and vocational training level, but also at national and international mobility level. The MJC are therefore present with these
young people to help them gain self-confidence and autonomy to achieve their projects.
General access to information on international mobility is difficult, even for professionals, or incomplete. Young people imagine that it is only reserved for people going to university, thus closing the possibility of travelling earlier or in another context (non-formal via the MJCs for example or during their training). In order to promote the mobility of young people abroad, a position of Occitanie Mobility referent within the MJC has been created, in order to disseminate information in the network and to help organise trips and exchanges abroad to broaden young people’s skills (autonomy, intercultural skills, linguistic skills) and to encourage them to leave later on by themselves, but also to welcome young people coming
from abroad in the framework of the European Solidarity Corps or the Franco-German Volunteer Service. This allows young French people to see for themselves what an international mobility experience could be like. Generally speaking, peer-to-peer exchange is essential in the vision of developing international mobility for the MJC (10).
Definition according to Roudel

The mission of the Roudel association (11) is to promote meetings and exchanges between people, societies, languages and cultures.

Like the MJC, Roudel’s main objective is to organise meetings of young people to encourage exchange between them in a supervised manner (linguistic and intercultural animation methods, proposed activities to think about intercultural musters, identity…), but also during informal times (free time, meals, etc.). Even if, through its partnerships, Roudel focuses on exchanges with Germany among others, all young people are concerned, from all socio-economic backgrounds, whatever their education, language level or background, from 10 to 30 years old, as well as youth work actors in formal and non-formal education, affected by these international exchanges.

The focus is on young people who have little or no access to international mobility because of their place of residence (city – socially deprived districts – or countryside), their education, education level, their sexual orientation or gender, their ethnic origins or their disability (Young People with Fewer Opportunities (12) ).

Thus, Roudel proposes to look for partners in Germany, or even to organise an exchange for associations of the Solidarity and Social Economy and Popular Education, institutions, vocational training groups and individual young people to enable their public to experience what will often be a first mobility. The Association also offers training courses in intercultural animation or the Betzavta method as well as training meetings between youth work professionals between Germany and France.

The challenges of mobility in this context are therefore to find participants who are concerned with this age group and these objectives, who need to be motivated and persuaded that international mobility is important for their personal and professional development when they have not yet been made aware of it (social, linguistic and intercultural skills) with the help of local social and youth workers.

Intercultural encounters and activities during trips to another country or when hosting young people from abroad thus make it possible, consciously or unconsciously:

  • To be aware of one’s own identity, values and orientations, opinions and perceptions
  • To recognise and analyse one’s own actions, thinking and feeling in relation to one’s cultural roots (perception of self and other)
  • To understand the other in the context of his/her socialization within another culture, to show respect and openness to different ways of life
  • To be able to be open and flexible to new and unfamiliar situations, to be able to engage and behave appropriately
  • To be aware of one’s own role, to be able to distance oneself from it and to change it (change of perspective)
  • To be able to put oneself in the place of others and to feel that way (empathy)
  • To know the mechanisms and functioning of prejudices and to perceive them in oneself
  • To know on which levels differences can be hidden and to be curious about the meanings behind visible differences and the causes of their appearance
  • To be able to consider differences and contradictions as normal, to tolerate them, to allow different views and values to coexist and to give them recognition (tolerance of ambiguity)
  • To accept the stranger and the fact of not understanding (tolerance of frustration)
  • Being able to communicate verbally and non-verbally
  • To be aware that intercultural learning is a lifelong process and to be always willing to learn again (13)

All this allows young people to understand, deconstruct and fight against discrimination and intolerance processes to become better European citizens and build a peaceful future. It also helps to prepare welcoming and integrating refugees in general and climate refugees in particular, who will soon be more numerous due to climate change.

Other issues, such as the type of travel chosen by young people, which are increasingly sensitive to climate change (the Fridays for Future school strike movement – increasing eco-anxiety) and the idea of travelling in the post-Covid period may hinder some participants and their parents to think about a possible mobility abroad and the access to information about international mobility.

With climate change, air travel has also become a mode of transport to be avoided, and Roudel has made it its mission to favour train travel for its international meetings in order to limit the CO2 impact and to remain true to its values of fighting against climate change. It is also essential for Roudel to keep costs low for participants despite inflation, so that as many people as possible can still experience international mobility.

The objectives concerned here include quality education (4th) “the journey shapes the youth”, gender equality (5th), reduced inequalities (10th), sustainable cities and communities (11th) (access to local and international mobility for all), responsible consumption and production (12th) and measures to combat climate change (13th) in the choice of transport modes, for example, and peace, justice and effective institutions in the youth work (16th) carried out, for example, by youth clubs at local level or internationally by associations such as Roudel, which work for peace and education in universal values such as tolerance, diversity, inclusion or ecological awareness among young people (14). It is important for young people in the Global North to be aware of the general situation in the world and in the Global South in particular, to understand the current situation and to be sufficiently informed to take into account the situation of people who are suffering from climate change, and it is the mission of youth work organisations to pass on tools and methods to them.
  1. (15.02.23)
  2. (21.02.23)
  3. (21.02.2023)
  4. (23.02.2023)
  6. (21.02.2023)
  7. (23.02.2023)
  8. Enquête menée auprès du réseau de MJC d’Occitanie
  9. (21.02.2023)
  10. (06.03.2023)
  11. (02.03.2023)
  12. Pictures 1-5: Dewi Glanville, (02.03.2023)
  13. Picture 6: MJC Aureilhan