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May 20, 2024
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Climate Action: World Scouting and UNEP Renew Partnership to Empower Youth

World Scouting and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have marked 20 years of collaboration by renewing their long-standing partnership to engage young people in climate action and education in response to the climate emergency facing the planet.

Through the collaboration, both organizations will work together to support young people to develop the skills to become environmental leaders that promote sustainability and drive meaningful progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

A priority for the partnership will be to mobilize young people and National Scout Organizations in educational programmes, activities and community action through the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge.

This initiative aims to encourage young people to tackle plastic pollution by raising awareness, fostering community engagement, and advocating for policy changes. The Tide Turners Plastic Challenge was developed as part of UNEP’s #BeatPlasticPollution campaign with support and funding from the United Kingdom Government’s Department of Environment Food and Global Environment Facility.

Bruno Maggy G. Pozzi, Deputy Director of Ecosystems Division, UNEP said, “Partnering with educational youth movements like World Scouting is crucial for UNEP to meaningfully engage youths in tackling the triple planetary crises because it harnesses the energy, creativity, and diverse perspectives of young people, ensuring holistic and sustainable solutions for our planet’s future.”

Nearly 90 per cent of the 174 National Scout Organizations around the world currently offer educational programmes focused on the environment to mobilize millions of young people to take action in local communities on climate-related issues. Fifty-one National Scout Organizations have implemented the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge. They have engaged more than 800,000 young people across over 50 countries, including those promoting it in conjunction with World Scouting’s Earth Tribe educational initiative.

The Youth Programme Assistant at the Kenya Scouts Association, Isaac Makinya said, “We are encouraging our scouts to take part in environmental conservation and one way to do this is through the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge. We have started by building the capacity of Scout Leaders, so they are able to engage young people at the grassroots.”

The partnership will also support local projects led by scouts that address plastic pollution and environmental stewardship, and provide digital badges and awards for Scouts who have successfully completed the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge to celebrate their achievements as environmental leaders.

“I was shocked by the amount of discarded plastic that littered the campus pathways, so together with 22 of my peers we set up a booth on the university’s grounds for a two-day awareness drive on plastic pollution,” said Cathy Nyake, Rover Scout and Student at the University of Yaoundé, Cameroon.

“We also visited lecture halls to share with fellow students the negative impacts of single-use plastics on the environment. I asked for permission from the lecturers to share information about the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge. I used my voice, as a Scout leader, to convey the message to thousands of people.”

Past projects include awareness raising on climate action in Venezuela where Scouts came together to build a sustainable wall, a green leadership drive in the Philippines, and local community action in Brazil where Scouts turned trash to treasure.

In Cameroon, Scouts were granted permission from the mayor of Bafoussam to collect plastic waste from events, and areas like marketplaces and funeral grounds.

“The mayor also provided tricycles for us to transport waste to recycling centres,” said Nankam Charlie, West Region Scouts Commissioner, Cameroon. “Local authorities also supported the challenge by placing bins at designated points in and around the city for the public to dispose of plastic waste. At the end of every week, Scouts would gather the plastic for reusing or recycling.”

In addition to educational activities, the partnership will foster collaboration at various global and regional Scouting events, including Jamborees, JOTA-JOTI, and the World Scout Education Congress. These platforms will serve as opportunities to amplify environmental education, while inspiring action and mobilizing young people to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.

“This partnership represents a significant step forward in our collective efforts to mobilize young people as environmental leaders,” said Sam Williams, Global Director for Business Development and Resource Mobilisation with World Scouting. “We face an unprecedented climate emergency, our planet is overheating, biodiversity is on the brink, and our oceans are dying. By joining forces with UNEP, we can leverage the power of scouting to drive positive, youth-led change and build a more sustainable future for generations to come.”

The partnership forms part of World Scouting’s flagship environmental education initiative, Earth Tribe, developed also in partnership with World Wildlife Fund and Solafrica.


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