How I represented Scouts at the United Nations

4 minutes

By Nadine Shili, WOSM Youth Representative

On September 16th, I stepped in to the United Nations headquarters in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). I’ve studied law for five years and have always been passionate about international law… now I found myself on international territory in this renowned UN building, surrounded by world leaders.

As a Youth Representative for World Scouting, I was there to do an important job: to raise the voices of young people during the Transforming Education Summit (TES). The Summit aimed to mobilise solutions to achieve quality, equitable and inclusive education for all.

Three Scouts draw the Scout emblem in chalk in front of the United Nations headquarters, and write "non-formal education is also education"
World Scout Bureau

Making Scouts’ voices heard

Surprisingly, the Transforming Education agenda didn’t include non-formal education, like what we do in Scouting. I know that when we talk about equitable and inclusive education and lifelong learning, we need to talk about Scouting. After all, we have more than 100 years of experience and success providing youth-led and skills-based learning opportunities outside of classrooms!

Together as a delegation of Scouts and alongside partners, we made sure that non-formal education was highly visible at the UN throughout the week, advocating for millions of young people who cannot be heard directly. 

Learning by doing at the United Nations

In the spirit of Scouting, this was truly a “learning by doing” experience for me! At 24 years old, all of my university years came to life in front of me as I actively participated in international civil society and politics.

This is further proof of the power of non-formal education. Since the age of six, Scouting never failed to provide me with the skills that formal education alone didn’t provide. I found myself confidently approaching leaders and peers in the education sector, asking tough questions, and sharing my learning.

Scouts pose with Robert Jenkins, Global Director of Education and Adolescent Development for UNICEF, at the United Nations
World Scout Bureau

Skills for life in action

The teamwork and leadership skills I gained in Scouting have been at the forefront of a productive professional journey for me - from post-secondary education and volunteer roles, to exciting job opportunities and representing young people at the UN.

Three years ago, when I applied to be a Youth Representative for World Scouting, one of the questions I had to answer was: “What’s your motivation for this position?” I answered that I want to be a diplomat one day. I’m inspired by communities I belong to - like my home country of Tunisia and my Scouting family - and I want to represent them proudly! I want to step up and be a voice for young people. 

Besides these motivations, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is top of mind for millions of Scouts, because we live by our motto of “creating a better world”. Ensuring Quality Education for all is necessary to address poverty, inequality, decent work, and economic growth.

We put non-formal education on the agenda at the Transforming Education Summit (TES) and we need to keep talking about it, holding leaders accountable, and making contributions to achieve Goal 4. 

Scout Nadine Shili poses in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York City
World Scout Bureau

Creating a better world together

From being an ambitious young Scout in Tunisia to representing 57 million youth voices from 172 countries, I sometimes feel like I’m living a dream. I’m seeing years of work, skills and experience culminate into action!

Sometimes, we hear that young people are the leaders of tomorrow, but the truth is that young people are leaders today. Join me and Scouts worldwide in building a better world!

Share your volunteer initiatives on our Scouts for SDGs hub and post on social media with #Scouts4SDGs.


The participation of Youth Representatives at events was made possible with support from Alwaleed Philanthropies, a key partner in Scouts for SDGs, an initiative in which Scouts are making the world’s largest coordinated youth contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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