New voluntary service naturweit launched

01.10.2018 - Press release

From today, volunteers can apply to naturweit, the new international voluntary service of the German Commission for UNESCO and the Federal Foreign Office.

From Mount Elgo in Uganda to the Palace Cave in Uruguay, effective immediately, naturweit offers young people an amazing opportunity to help preserve natural heritage. The German Commission for UNESCO and the Federal Foreign Office are launching the voluntary programme naturweit alongside the kulturweit programme. Volunteer locations include UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites, geoparks and biosphere reserves around the world. Volunteers thus have an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the close relationship between humans and the environment. Young people aged 18 to 26 can apply from 1 to 31 October.

“This planet belongs to us all – and we don’t have another one,” said Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State for International Cultural Policy at the Federal Foreign Office. “This is why it’s so important to get the young generation enthusiastic about our environment. With the naturweit programme, we’re helping to preserve natural heritage around the world and to broaden the young volunteers’ understanding of the most diverse ways of life,” Müntefering added.

In the course of a voluntary social year at a World Natural Heritage site, UNESCO biosphere reserves or geoparks, the young adults are able to gain six months of experience working in the field of sustainable development. This new programme focus supplements the international cultural voluntary service of the German Commission for UNESCO and is supported by the Federal Foreign Office.

“Climate change and the extinction of species do not stop at borders,” said Prof. Maria Böhmer, President of the German Commission for UNESCO. Many of the challenges of our time are bound up with environmental issues. “It’s therefore all the more important that we inspire young people in particular to take a hands on approach to help find global solutions. They can do this through the UNESCO networks, in biosphere reserves, in geoparks and at World Natural Heritage sites,” Böhmer continued.

Since 2009, over 3700 kulturweit volunteers have worked to promote education and culture. They are enriching German language lessons at schools, getting involved in cultural projects and becoming acquainted with the work of UNESCO’s National Commissions in over 70 countries.
All people aged from 18 to 26 living in Germany are entitled to take part in the kulturweit programme. They are offered intensive preparation for their time abroad and receive educational and financial support.

Applications for the new voluntary service naturweit can be submitted online from 1 October at www.kulturweit.de. The six month voluntary service programme starts on 1 March 2019.
kulturweit is a project of the German Commission for UNESCO and receives funding from the Federal Foreign Office. Its partner organisations include the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), DW (Deutsche Welle) Akademie, the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), the Goethe-Institut (GI), the Educational Exchange Service (PAD) in cooperation with the Federal Office of Administration - Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA), and numerous UNESCO National Commissions around the world.

Further information

kulturweit website and application portal

Image material for kulturweit

Portrait and statements by Eva Richter, volunteer at the UNESCO National Commission in Lesotho (German)

Portrait and statements by Vanessa van den Hövel, volunteer at the UNESCO National Commission in Kenya (German)


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