“Nature gives us everything we need to survive: water, air and food. We must act to save nature, in order for nature to save us,” said Jemi, a Scout from the Philippines.
With half the world’s population under the age of 30, young people today will shape the world of tomorrow. In fact, Jemi and her peers are the last generation that can save our planet.
The way we currently feed, fuel, and finance ourselves is pushing the planet to the edge. Nature is in crisis like never before and WEF’s very own Global Risks Report lists environmental risks as the biggest threat to the global economy. We don’t have much time to put things right. Only 12 years in fact, according to a landmark UN report. Never before has the threat of irreversible damage been so close or so clear.
All this means we need to take urgent action to put our natural world on the path to recovery. Protecting and restoring nature is fundamental to economic prosperity, sustainable development and addressing climate change. And it is our moral responsibility to coexist with the amazing diversity of life we share the planet with. Young people have a huge role to play in creating a more sustainable world. Youth have to be part of the solution. After all, they are the environmental leaders of tomorrow. More than ever, we need active young citizens to create positive change in their communities so we can tackle the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
Engaging with and mobilizing young people is absolutely critical, which is why World Scouting and WWF are working together to raise awareness among young people and inspire action on nature and the environment. Nature has always been central to Scouting, which is soon launching a revamped environment programme, Earth Tribe Alliance, in recognition of the enormous challenges facing the planet. The programme engages young people in education about sustainable development, helping youth to better understand the impact of their consumer habits on the environment and how to make choices that are more sustainable.
From Brazil to Nigeria to Indonesia, millions of Scouts are learning more about the importance of preserving nature by taking part in activities and community projects in service of the environment. The activities allow them to discover the world around them, be aware of the main environmental concerns in their communities, cooperate with others for sustainable solutions and take actions that have a positive impact. In Indonesia, for example, WWF and the National Scout Organization, Gerakan Pramuka, are working together on a programme that inspires young people to lead environmental action. “Young people are the future of Indonesia. They can play an active role in protecting our planet, our home,” Rizal Malik, CEO of WWF-Indonesia, told us at the launch of the programme in Jakarta.
In Nigeria, Scouts are implementing the consumption of clean energy by exploring ways to convert solar energy into electricity. This project is supported by World Scouting’s Messengers of Peace programme that encourages Scouts worldwide to initiate community service projects to tackle social and environmental issues and inspire others to take action. With over 50 million young members, World Scouting pledged to make the world’s largest coordinated youth contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals. Building new partnerships and strengthening existing ones is crucial in mobilizing young people to achieve the global vision for 2030.
World Scouting and WWF recently collaborated on mobilization efforts such as WWF’s Earth Hour, building mass awareness on the importance of nature. Earth Hour, the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, has been a game-changer for popularizing climate and environmental action across the globe. This year, over 50 million Scouts helped spark global conversations and actions on issues such as healthy forests, plastic-free oceans and wildlife conservation.
© WWF-Philippines / Alo Lantin
The voices of many millions of young people are crucial to ensure the environment is top of the global agenda. Nature matters to young people and they are demanding action from world leaders. The next few years are critical to put the planet on the path to a better future, as 2020 sees a historic moment when key decisions will be taken on the future direction of climate action, sustainable development and nature. These decisions will set the agenda for decades to come. We need governments, businesses, financial institutions, civil society and people to commit to halting and start reversing the loss of nature.
Young people now have a unique opportunity to act for the future state of their planet. There is no Planet B and there is no time to lose. Youth can become champions for the environment and demand urgent change. The future is now.
By Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International and Ahmad Alhendawi, Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement