Member og the European Pool of Representatives (EPOR), Barbara Lucas (AFS Spain) represented EFIL at the Paris Conference on Global Education, held on 28 November. One year after the Paris attacks the Global Education Network Europe organised this conference bringing together 180 stakeholders from Europe and beyond including international organisations, ministries and agencies, local and regional authorities, academic institutions and civil society organisations like EFIL.

The conference was co-organised and supported by the European Youth Forum, the French ministries of  International Development and Foreign Affairs, PLATFORMA (The European voice of local and regional authorities for development) and CONCORD (the European NGO confederation for relief and development).

Given that the world is facing ever more complex challenges like environmental and humanitarian crises, armed conflicts and terrorism, radicalization and xenophobia, migration and income disparities the objective of the conference was to look for creative solutions through education, and share and facilitate policy learning through successful approaches to transformative change.

After the official opening we started out in the morning with a first plenary session on the role of education as a response to global challenges with an inspiring key note address from Mr. Kumi Naidoo, human rights activist and launch director of Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity. He centered his speech on the question of how we can transmit our dreams and make believable that we can reach transformation through education for global citizenship competences. He pointed out that global education has to question the common belief that happiness comes from more goods, more consumption and more products, and said that as educators we are obliged to actually not walk away from complexity but look for answers to complex challenges.


Barbara found in his keynote links to EFIL´s mission to promote global citizenship education through long term student exchanges and lifelong learning opportunities in the AFS world of voluntary commitment. Therefore she introduced EFIL and how we promote intercultural learning in the following working groups for civil society organizations and in the afternoon in a working group on good practices.

It became obvious that a common concern of all the different stakeholders was the cohesion of community all around the world as we are challenged by division, economical inequality and exclusion. Barbara pointed out how our programmes and our intercultural learning activities help to tackle problems with cultural sensitivity and promote cooperative and inclusive solutions. She also talked about our long experience on how to teach understanding and how to create respect for the other who is similar to us in his basic human necessities and might be different in his cultural expression.


Barbara’s impressions: ‘All in all it was quite an inspiring experience. I made contacts with other civil society organisations like youth organisations and associations of young migrants, I met representatives from different regional and local authorities, and last but not least I met an AFS returnee from the Global Education Conference who had been with AFS in Brazil and Alessio Surian from the University of Padova who had worked with EFIL in Brussels in the 1990s. This was my first experience as EPOR and I am looking forward to the next challenge!’.

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Photos: ©Barbara Lucas