The European Scout Region at COP26

13 Climate Action
Climate Action
Youth Engagement
Portrait de European Scout Region
by European Scout ... from Switzerland
Publication date: 2. déc 2021

A delegation of Scouts from around the world attended the COP26 in Glasgow to take a stand on the global climate crisis and advocate for urgent climate action. Among them was also Caillum, External Representative of the European Region. 

We met Caillum to let him explain us what happened during the event. 

 

Caillum, can you tell us something about yourself and explain your role within the Region?

 

Do you care about lovely green fields and vast mountain ranges? Me too. My name is Caillum Hedderman, and I am from Limerick in Ireland. I am nineteen years of age and recently started studying Political Science, International Relations & Sociology at University College Dublin. 

I joined the Ex Rep team in December 2019, aged seventeen, after participating at the World Non-Formal Education Forum representing my NSO. Since then, I have gotten the opportunity to work with our incredible External Relations team to communicate your incredible actions to the external world to impact policy and showcase the importance of our movement.

 

Why do Scouts attend a global Climate Change Conference?

 

In my opinion, Scouts are THE leaders in the climate and environmental education sphere. It was my goal at COP26 to further our position as leaders in this field and bring recognition to the importance of education on meaningful climate action.

On a more urgent note, our generation will be the first to ‘weather’ the effects of climate change, so it was fundamentally important for me to be present and vocal as a young person, in symbiosis with being a Scout.

On a more personal level, coming from a rural community, I feel we can often be left behind in important discussions surrounding the climate and environment. It was great to contribute to these conversations too, as many Irish and European Scouts are quite rurally based.

Outside of Scouting, I have been involved in advising my local authority on strategic policy for the past two years, as a member of their Climate Action, Biodiversity & Environment Strategic Policy Committee. This gave me an important insight into the language and political translation of global leader’s public commitments, compared to their direct policy impact, and best prepared me to spread the message of Scouting in a clear, policy-driven manner.

 

What did you do during the event?

 

It was a jam-packed week of panel discussions, interventions, media interviews, networking and mobilization. 

The first day, I spent acclimatizing to the venue and points of interest for us as a Scout movement in order to structure the week I had on the ground. While doing this, on my first morning I met Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights and first female President of Ireland, and we spoke briefly about the importance of young people’s involvement in decision making processes.

The visibility of Scouting at the event was prevalent, with our lovely neckerchiefs being a point of interest for many media outlets. I had the opportunity to be interviewed for the official UN media channels and UK Governmental social medias. On Friday, which was the day of youth, I featured across the official COP26 social media channels, with the quote“Scouts are leaders in the field of environment and climate education”. To have our movement recognized through the official channels and made the trip worth it.

On Saturday, we attended the march for Global Day of Action which was calling on our global leaders to recognize the need for decisive, inclusive, and meaningful climate action, that leaves no one behind. Walking in the march, it was incredible to witness such a mobilization of intergenerational and multicultural acceptance. Some of the conversations we had, with people of all ages, truly summed up why we needed to be at COP – we are apart of something bigger than ourselves, a global movement to save this beautiful place we call home.

Over the week, I was fortunate to meet global activists and advocates. At the Force of Nature’s event regarding education and awareness around climate, I met Kevin J. Patel and Leah Thomas, who are leading climate activists in the US, who help educate our generation on the impact climate change has, through an intersectional lens. It was incredible to speak about the role education plays across the world, and how it can be used as a tool for social change.

I had to opportunity to speak with WWF UK CEO, Tanya Steele, about our partnership and campaign #PromiseToThePlanet. It was great to reaffirm the importance of environmental education among all generations. I also met AY Young, an eagle Scout and musician, who is carbon neutral in his concerts and has founded the ‘BatteryTour’ which is a performance tool powered by renewable energy.

 

What inspired you the most during the COP26? 

 

There was a lot of frustration among young activists at COP26, as we felt that the barriers to the decision-making tables had never been so far from reach. But, I always found great hope and inspiration knowing that I am fortunate enough to be apart of a movement of over 57 million people across the globe who are committed to serving their communities and protecting our environment.

In terms of specific moments, there was one panel speaker that provided me with a lot of inspiration. It was actually my first day at COP26, and my first panel. It was relating to importance of gender-sensitive, equitable and just climate finance and one of the speakers was a Malawian Minister. Minister Nancy Tembo was her name, and she spoke very directly and rawly about the need to combat the climate crisis. She said, ‘how can we sit here and speak about climate action, when we have poverty’. It brought me back to one of core values, and that of Scouting, to leave no one behind, and it set me in the right frame of mind for the rest of the conference.

My main inspiration was the incredible group of Scouts around me on the ground in Glasgow. From our two Global Youth Reps, Grecia (Mexico) and Kazi (Bangladesh), the NSO and NSA representatives, Maxime (France), Ada (Finland), Sara(Portugal), Massimou (Niger), and our incredible supports, Hannah (Wales) and Ville (Finland), the dedication and passion for Scouting, climate action and belief in our generation to create lasting change was simply incredible.

 

3 takeaways from your participation?    

 

Local action is essential. Without direct local action, there can be no breakthrough policy changes. The action Scouts are taking on the ground have a collective impact so immense we will never truly have the ability to quantify it.

Scouting is leading avenue for climate action. We as Scouts have a leading role in making our communities aware of the depth of their action and our decision makers the impact their decision are having on a local and national level.

We need to make our decision making more inclusive. Although it was a worthwhile experience, it was very difficult for young people, and other marginalized groups, to be directly involved in processes of impact. We must change this, and ensure those most affected by these decisions are at the forefront.

 

By Caillum Hedderman, External Representative of the European Scout Region

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