Social impact of Scouting discussed at UNESCO NGO Forum
At the beginning of May, the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) attended the “Youth and Their Social Impact” Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. WOSM was represented by a delegation of young people, led by Secretary General Ahmad Alhendawi; Alexandru Coica, External Relations Manager of World Scout Bureau (WSB); Pauline Kagiri, member of the Eastern Africa Zonal Youth Committee in Kenya; Aomori Matsumoto from Asociación de Scouts de México; and Pierre Arlaud, WOSM representative to UNESCO.
Organised by UNESCO and the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee in partnership with the Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (MiSK), the Forum brought together about 2,100 youth representatives, NGOs, philanthropists and social innovators from 70 countries to discuss, share knowledge and experience around the theme of the event.
The Forum, attended by 2,100 representatives and delegates from 400 NGOs and 70 countries, focused on engaging young people in creating a strong social impact worldwide, and saw the participants discuss and develop practical ideas to enable and motivate young people to make a positive social impact.
For over 100 years, Scouting has been a leading voluntary educational movement for young people to develop their full potentials as individuals and as members of their communities. WOSM’s presence at the event was most timely considering recent work done in the field of “Scouting Social Impact”
At the Forum, WOSM representatives showcased the movement’s community work done at the grassroots level and its social impact at local, national and global level. Alexandru Coica highlighted WOSM’s inclusive work in non-formal education and the concept of coeducation, while Pierre Arlaud contributed to the work of the forum by facilitating the breakout session on “Protection of Cultural Heritage: Can young people make a difference?”. Pierre was instrumental in drafting an agreement that was signed in 2015 by WOSM and UNESCO that enables Scouts from all over the world to carry out projects on the World Heritage sites.
Pauline from Kenya interacted with different NGOs. They discussed various issues arising and affecting young people today, and how WOSM can be a partner to work, empower and inspire the youths in our community. She spoke about WOSM’s Messengers of Peace Initiative and its positive impact to the community, which attracted the attention of many NGOs. As she declared “I am pleased that UNESCO, via its Unite for Heritage campaign, is considering the possibility of collaboration and leveraging the Messengers of Peace Initiative to engage more young people and Scouts to achieve the UN 2023 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
Aomori from Mexico shared her work and experience on how Scouts are inspiring and engaging young people especially through digital media. She led discussions on topics that WOSM is strong in (especially those that are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals) as well as developing or exploring, such as social entrepreneurship, collaborating further with NGOs for social good, and optimising the impact of digital natives.
“However, an element that remains a big gap to fill is the measurement of social impact and positive change to the community. This seems to be a challenge among the NGOs and participants, and it is an opportunity for WOSM to lead and/or partner with NGOs and develop a best practice,” Aomori said.
Strengthening partnerships to empower young people
During his visit to Riyadh, Ahmad Alhendawi, John Geoghegan, the Director of the World Scout Foundation (WSF), and Alexandru Coica took the opportunity to meet Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar, the Secretary General of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID). Both parties reflected on a long-term sustainable partnership and discussed ways of further empower young people through a joint dialogue programme.
In November 2013, WOSM and KAICIID established a partnership to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue among young people. As part of the partnership, both organisations agreed to use dialogue as a tool to promote a responsible way of living the spiritual and religious dimension within their respective communities, and the joint preparation of dialogue training for Scouts.
Scouting delegation, led by A. Alhendawi also visited the headquarters of the Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts Association (SABSA-SA) where they got acquainted with the Scouting programmes that SABSA-SA has developed, had a dialogue with the Scout leaders and Scouts – including a patrol of Boy Scouts of America who were in Riyadh and with an existing long-term cooperation with SABSA-SA.
At the end of this visit to Saudi Arabia, WOSM Secretary General and Dr. Abdullah Alfahad, a member of the World Scout Committee, met the Saudi Arabia Minister of Education, Ahmed Aleissa, to discuss ways of advancing Scouting in the country and including girls into the movement. This was an important step towards achieving the Vision and Mission of Scouting as a global leading educational youth movement, enabling young people to create positive change in their communities.
(Photo credit: Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts Association, Ahmad Alhendawi, Alexandru Coica)