Barely a month after Hurricane Sandy devastated Haiti, Cuba and the United States of America, and following a year full of storms, floods, droughts, earthquakes, forest fires, volcanic eruptions and every other natural disaster we can imagine occurring worldwide, politicians and members of the civil society from all over the world have come together at CoP18 to discuss and negotiate agreements that will hopefully limit climate change to a minimum and preserve the planet for future generations. As a continuation of the strong presence of Scouting in the previous Conferences of Parties (CoPs), World Scouting brought a smaller but very active team to represent the Movement at CoP18 events in Qatar. The 18th edition of CoP and the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 8) are taking place simultaneously from 26 November to 7 December 2012 at the Qatar National Convention Centre in the capital city of Doha.
Background of World Scouting and CoPs
The World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM), as an accredited organisation with the United Nations (UN), is entitled to participate with delegations at different international conferences, although mostly with an observer status. In recent years, WOSM Delegations have had a strong presence at the CoP events of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Prior to Qatar, Scouts have been participating actively at the highest decision making body under the Climate Change Convention, among others, in Copenhagen, Denmark (2009), Cancun, Mexico (2010), and Durban, South Africa (2011).
The WOSM Delegation at CoP18
The current delegation of World Scouting in Qatar includes Lars Kramm from Germany and Mohamed Salih from Sudan, supported by a staff member of the World Scout Bureau. The WOSM Delegation at CoP18 shares an exhibition space with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). The exhibition booth has been a useful opportunity to connect with Scouts from other delegations, and at the same time, to talk about Scout initiatives to those who were not aware of the strong connection between Scouting and the environment.
Qatar Scouts and Climate Change
Locally, Scouts from Qatar are currently engaging in several activities related to the environment and climate change, in order to capitalise on the high attention to the issues that the Conference is creating at the moment. For several years now, Qatar Scouts have been involving their Scouts in various environmental projects and initiatives, not only helping raise awareness on climate change issues in the community, but also educating themselves on various ways of ‘Mitigation and Adaptation’.
World Scouting's role in youth constituencies at CoP18
The WOSM Delegation to CoP18 is also actively participating in YOUNGO, the youth constituency of UNFCCC. As part of YOUNGO, the youth delegates and representatives from youth organisations meet every morning to review the previous day’s activities and developments with a youth perspective, share information about upcoming events of particular interest for the youth, and help everyone present to build a personal plan for the day. Sometimes YOUNGO gatherings engage the participants into detailed discussions on specific issues through break out working groups. One of the main topics of interest for Scouting for a couple of years now has been to contribute to the work on changes to “Article 6” of the UNFCCC, which deals with climate change education, training and participation in decision-making.