Keep our common values, share, learn and build a better future together
Dear brothers and sisters in Scouting,
As we begin this Conference, I bring you warm greetings from my colleagues on the World Scout Committee and their best wishes for a productive event.
Allow me to express what a pleasure it is to be here, amongst friends, and share with you these days in which you’ll be discussing important issues for Scouting in this part of the world.
A Regional Conference like this one serves three purposes: (1) to be updated on developments at world and regional level, (2) to make good decisions for the future and (3) to meet and exchange with friends.
All going well, by the end of the conference you’ll be inspired to go back to your countries and NSOs and take action.
Having this in mind, I would like to offer you 3 contributions for that process of reflecting, making decisions and taking action.
1 – our common path
The first contribution is a reminder of Our Common Path. The path that we have all agreed upon when we met in Slovenia in 2014. As many of you remember, we left the World Scout Conference with a new Vision for the Scout Movement in 2023: to be the “world’s leading educational youth movement, enabling 100 million young people to be active citizens creating positive change in their communities and the world, based on shared values.”
With this statement we are reinforcing our purpose: the education of young people to become active citizens; and we are saying that we want more young people to benefit from this life-changing learning environment which is called Scouting. We don’t want to grow in membership just for the sake of growing, but because we truly believe we can transform people’s lives for the better and, thereby, the entire world.
To make this vision a reality we committed to concentrate our efforts on 6 Strategic Priorities: Educational Methods, Youth Engagement, Social Impact, Diversity & Inclusion, Communications & External Relations, and Governance & NSO support. We believe that, by developing these areas, we’ll be able to make significant progress towards the Vision. Doesn’t mean we won’t deal with other issues but these are the ones in which we’ll be investing more of the WOSM resources: people, materials, time and money.
I am happy to see that the Plan you’ll be discussing for the Asia-Pacific Scout Region has a significant alignement with this global Strategy and that you are ready to play a role in this collective endeavour.
2 – your World Scout Committee
The second contribution is an update on the work of your World Scout Committee. As you know, the committee developed a Triennial Plan that is the key reference for the work to be undertaken. This plan, which was shared with the entire Organisation, was built around 3 main ideas: Unity, Impact and Growth.
Unity: because we are stronger when we come together, when we develop common ideas and projects, when we understand and value our differences, and are able to build from them;
Impact: because we need to focus on the influence we have on young people’s development, to respond better to societal challenges and to communicate better what we do;
Growth: because, we believe in the benefits of being involved in Scouting learning experiences, and hence we want more people to have that opportunity. And that is our contribution for a Better World.
I’m happy to report that exciting developments have happened in the past year, and some others are in the process. Among those I can refer:
• The work on our definition and measurement of Social Impact, as to what it means for us
• The implementation of our new two Youth-related policies: the Youth Programme Policy and the Youth Involvement Policy
• A new Communications & External Relations Strategy, including the definition and scope of collaboration with partners like the United Nations
• The Youth Events: WSJamborees (Japan & North America) and WSMoot (Iceland)
• The improvement of our internal working methods, as a Committee, and the overall transparency in WOSM
• A Global Support System which has, with the active contribution of the Regions, assisted more than 100 NSOs in the last year
• The achievement of over 600 million hours of service, very much related to our flagship initiative Messengers of Peace
• A new era of strengthened collaboration with key partners such as the World Scout Foundation and WAGGGS
• And, as you know, we are working on finding new Representation and Fee Systems which will be more fair, aplicable to all, and able to face, in a sustainable way, the demands of an Organisation that aims to serve 100 million individual members not long from now.
All these are just examples that illustrate how your World Scout Committee, together with around 100 plus volunteers and with the fundamental support of the World Scout Bureau, has been working to deliver what the World Scout Conference has asked us to do.
3 – Your role in this
Finally, my third contribution, is a reminder of how the world is changing and how we all need to be prepared to overcome the challenges and use the opportunities.
If we look around us we may see conflict, poverty, inequality, unemployment, lack of education, environmental disasters, discrimination... But, at the same time, we also see collaboration across borders, openess and respect, solidarity, global awareness, creative governance, compassion and meaningful acts of peace. This is what we, Scouts, need to be associated with, wherever we live in the world.
You, the NSOs in this region, run some of the most touching and meaningful projects and programmes we have in Scouting. Projects and programmes that literally transform the lives of young people and the communities they live in. You should know that I am a very proud Scout when I share with others the stories I know about the Ticket to Life programme or the Messengers of Peace projects. I encourage you to continue these remarkable initiatives and to share those stories with the rest of the world, inside and outside Scouting, because those are stories of real Impact.
But I also encourage you to learn from the stories of your brothers and sisters spread throughout the world: from those who are bringing hope to young people living in dangerous areas in Mexico, to those in Austria and all over Europe providing relief and support to people running from a devastating war in Syria. Or the ones in Uganda who run projects that equip youth with agricultural skills that make them able to provide to their families. And many more examples could be found from which all of us can learn and feel proud.
This is how our Movement can strive, develop and grow in these changing times: by keeping our common values, by sharing with, and learning from, our colleagues, and by being ready to build our common future together.
Three months ago 30,000 young people came together in this part of the world for an unforgettable World Scout Jamboree. They showed us what is to learn from the next neighbour, to share their resources, to work in collaboration, to live in harmony, to be open to those they didn’t knew before, or to explore the challenges of today’s world. What a remarkable example to us all!
Maybe we can learn a bit more from the young people we say we serve and recognise that they are an asset today (and not only for the future). They can probably help us to build Unity and to achieve Growth.
Because it’s not only about “Growth towards Unity”. It is also about “Unity towards Growth”.
We have to count on each other to be the leading educational youth movement in the world. I and the others brothers and sisters around the world certainly count on you all to build that.
I wish you a good and fruitful Regional Conference!
[Photo credit: Kyuho Choi and Hank Hyungkyu Jang from Korea Scout Association]