… global learning and personal development.
… people, bringing them closer together.
… creating a diverse and sustained impact, both for individuals and our One World.
… with its vast experience, proven structures and continuous development making it a partner you can rely on.
… our One World on a level playing field.
… through partnership, diversity and quality.
… individuals’ lives as well as the global community.
Any questions on weltwärts? Get in touch!

Are you interested in the weltwärts programme and its components? Do you have any questions or need advice? Get in touch – we’re happy to help. We are available Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 6 pm and Friday from 8 am to 2 pm.

General information about weltwärts

What is weltwärts?

weltwärts stands for dedication to development, global learning and equitable encounters. Spanning Germany, Asia, Africa, Latin America, Oceania and Eastern Europe, weltwärts brings people from all these regions together through volunteering. In doing so, it promotes non-formal learning, mutual exchanges and strong international partnership.

Why weltwärts?

  • Contribution towards implementing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs
  • Equitable intercultural dialogue
  • Stronger civil society structures
  • Stronger international partnerships
  • High-level quality assurance

Facts and figures

Top 5 - Where do North-South volunteers go?

With weltwärts, you can engage in volunteer services in many countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Oceania. In 2023 most volunteers have travelled to Ecuador, followed by Ghana, India, Peru and Bolivia.

Top 5 - Where do the South-North volunteers come from?

Since the end of 2013, a total of 4,688 volunteers from the Global South have volunteered in Germany. In 2023, the majority of volunteers came from Bolivia, followed by Tanzania, Mexico, Peru and Colombia.

How many young people go “weltwärts”?

Since the beginning of the programme back in 2008, over 50,000 young people have completed a volunteer service. Around 47,000 volunteers have left from Germany and around 4,700 volunteers from the Global South have come to Germany. Only a small number of young people were able to complete their volunteer service in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since 2022 more people volunteered with weltwärts again.


weltwärts – a success story

2008 And off we go!

Finally the day has come: on 17 January 2008 the first 50 volunteers are sent off on an adventure. By the end of the year, their number will have grown to over 2,000 – all young people on their way to volunteer in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania or Eastern Europe.

2009 weltwärts – and then?

From the very beginning, the weltwärts programme gives strong consideration to enabling volunteers to remain active upon their return. A concept by the name of “weltwärts - und danach?” is formally adopted in 2009. The objective is to enable the volunteers to share the invaluable experience they gain abroad once they come back to Germany.

2010 The 10,000th volunteer

Christian Päßler is the 10,000th volunteer to go abroad with weltwärts. In November 2010 he departs for a year in South Africa, where he will volunteer for a sports and development project near Durban

2011 weltwärts is evaluated

In preparation for the further development of the programme, in year three of weltwärts the BMZ performs a first evaluation. The report concludes that weltwärts is meeting its objectives: to inspire young people in joining a volunteer development service and to encourage greater understanding between North and South.

2012 Engagement Global is established

In connection with the structural reform of Germany’s development cooperation sector, on 1 January 2012 the weltwärts secretariat is spun off to become part of the newly established entity Engagement Global gGmbH – Service für Entwicklungsinitiativen. From 2013, it is known as the weltwärts Coordination Unit.

2013 weltwärts connects!

In 2013 weltwärts celebrates its fifth anniversary. On 11 and 12 April 2013, over 400 returnees, representatives of implementing and partner organisations and many other weltwärts stakeholders meet to review the last five years, discuss the future of weltwärts – and of course to celebrate.

2014 No longer a one-way street!

Since 2013, young people from the Global South have been able to travel to Germany to gain practical experience via the weltwärts programme. In the first year after the South-North component is launched, 130 young volunteers arrive in Germany.

2015 More diversity!

To this end, in 2015 a number of civil society competence centres are set up. They advise implementing organisations as well as interested young people with a vocational qualification and/or an impairment on going abroad as volunteers.

2016 weltwärts exchanges

A new format: weltwärts exchange projects. This new programme element enables  youth groups to take part in development exchanges. Groups of young people from Germany and the Global South receive funding so they can work together on one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

2017 1,000th South-North volunteer

he 1,000th volunteer from the Global South, Della Bii-Mai from Cameroon, commences her assignment on 4 September 2017 with the Partnerschaft mit Afrika foundation in Potsdam near Berlin.

2018 #weltwärts leaves its mark

On 15 September, weltwärts celebrates its tenth anniversary in Berlin at an event attended by around 1,000 guests. In the ten years of weltwärts, more than 34,000 young Gemans have gone abroad to volunteer, while over 1,500 volunteers have come to Germany as volunteers with the South-North component.

2019 Youth groups go weltwärts

The three-year pilot phase for weltwärts exchanges ends on a successful note. By late 2019, funding will have been granted to 81 projects by 74 different organisations involving a multitude of partner countries in and outside of Africa on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

2020 weltwärts and Covid

The Covid-19 pandemic adversely affected people’s lives all over the world. Sending organisations worked under immense pressure to return volunteers to Germany, which they managed to do by April.

2021 Launch of the weltwärts podcast

The weltwärts podcast went live with Mathias Herwix, a former volunteer, in the host’s chair. In the first episode, former volunteers spoke about their volunteer service and what they’ve been up to since.

2022 Covid is quashed

With the pandemic over, it was time to head “weltwärts” once again. Some 2,500 German volunteers travelled to the Global South, while 606 volunteers from the Global South joined volunteer organisations across Germany.

2023 weltwärts’ 15th birthday!

This year provided plenty of reasons to celebrate. weltwärts celebrated its 15th anniversary with a large festival in Göttingen in April and at a partner conference in Berlin in October. On top of this, 50,000 volunteers travelled to Mexico and 4,000 volunteers from Uganda arrived in Germany as part of the South-North component.

Quality and reliability

weltwärts is regularly audited to ensure that its ambitious objectives are being fulfilled. This is done through standardised surveys among participants as well as independent evaluations and subsequent certification of the participating organisations.

Press release

Are you writing about the North-South or South-North components of the development volunteer service weltwärts, or are researching weltwärts exchanges? This page contains the most important facts and figures about weltwärts along with the contact details of Engagement Global’s press office.

Volunteer service: A South-North volunteer service with weltwärts. How does that work?