Virtual 42nd World Scout Conference unites Movement and looks to the future during historic event
The 42nd World Scout Conference finished on a high note with more around 3,000 participants representing 170 National Scout Organizations connecting from around the world to be part of the event’s closing ceremonies. The Conference was the largest in the history of WOSM, and the first time the event has been convened virtually, breaking new ground for the world’s leading educational youth Movement.
During the five-day event which took place from 25 to 29 August 2021, delegates and observers joined the virtual event experience to look back on the achievements of the past four years since the Conference last convened in Baku, Azerbaijan, and to make key decisions that will shape the future direction of the Scout Movement for the 2021-2024 triennium. The 42nd World Scout Conference was preceded by the 14th World Scout Youth Forum which engaged 700 young people in a unique learning and growth opportunity to provide input into the decisions taken during the Conference.
Bridging the world as active global citizens
National Scout Organization (NSO) delegations had the opportunity to take part in breakout sessions and workshops to strengthen their capacity and meet WOSM partners. The workshop topics focused on some of the major themes from the past triennium, including membership growth, environmental action, diversity and inclusion, child and youth protection, as well as Scouting’s youth-led contribution to peace and sustainable development through educational initiatives such as Messengers of Peace, Scouts for SDGs and Earth Tribe.
Global partners such as WWF ran a session on how NSOs can become more carbon neutral, while UNHCR highlighted how Scouting’s Youth Programme can be extended to include young migrants, refugees and internally displaced peoples. Representatives from the Big 6 Youth Organizations also joined a panel discussion on how non-formal education can enable youth engagement and youth development in a post-pandemic era.
In looking back on the past triennium, the Conference highlighted the strong growth and resilience of the Movement and Scouting’s collective response to support communities and young people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent addition of three new Member Organizations and more than five million Scouts who joined the Movement are signs that Scouting remains an active, vibrant and transformative educational opportunity for young people and volunteers worldwide.
Also highlighted during the Conference were the hundreds of cutting-edge services, supports and other direct engagements delivered through WOSM Services to Member Organizations since 2017, enabling NSOs to strengthen their capacity in everything from good governance to volunteer engagement to youth programming.
Virtual experience connects Scouting leadership together
The production of the 42nd World Scout Conference was supported by an enthusiastic team of 400 volunteers and staff from across all Scouting Regions who worked for months to put on the milestone event which was reimagined virtually this year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A digital platform customised specifically for the Conference enabled participants from all corners of the globe to access and join the event’s engaging programme of activities. The platform featured a variety of digital engagement functions and gamification elements used throughout the live plenaries, workshops, breakout sessions and other areas of the platform. Another innovation of the Conference was the introduction of a dedicated e-voting system to enable participation in decision-making during the event.
The virtual exhibition space offered Member Organizations and other key partners a chance to showcase their good practices, programmes and events. A number of side events and networking sessions also provided participants with a chance to connect remotely and meet friends, both new and old, from across the world of Scouting.
“Scouting is about empowerment, intercultural learning, and building bridges within our own communities and around the world. During the 42nd World Scout Conference, Member Organizations made key decisions that will guide the Scout Movement for the next triennium. This event has been truly inspirational to see us come together virtually to shape the future of Scouting for years to come,” said Djuna Bernard, Vice-Chairperson of the 42nd World Scout Conference.
Mandatory Safe from Harm courses, Listening Ears, online chat moderation and a dedicated team staff and volunteers available to respond to any safety concerns were among the strict safeguarding measures put in place for the virtual event to ensure participants had a safe and inclusive experience.
Key outcomes and decisions of the Conference
Delegates of the 42nd World Scout Conference voted to elect 12 Voting Members to the World Scout Committee to serve during the 2021-2024 Triennium. After this decision, the Voting Members went on to elect Edward Andrew “Andy” Chapman (United States of America) to serve as the Committee’s Chairperson, and Jo Deman (Belgium) and Sarah Rita Kattan (Lebanon) to serve as the Committee’s Vice-Chairpersons during the 2021-2024 triennium. Six Youth Advisors who will contribute to the Committee’s decision-making were elected during the 14th World Scout Forum which took place before the Conference.
The Conference achieved a 99% vote on approving an Amendment to the WOSM Constitution declaring Safe from Harm standards become a fundamental membership requirement. The adoption of the Constitutional Amendment sends a strong signal from Member Organizations on their commitment to ensure that Scouting is a safe and inclusive environment free of harm and abuse for children, young people and adult volunteers involved at all levels of the Movement.
A series of Conference Resolutions were also debated and voted on by Member Organizations during the event. The resolutions signify high-priority areas of focus for the Movement in the coming triennium. Some of the key resolutions which were adopted during the Conference include stronger compliance and support around child and youth safeguarding, developing a climate impact strategy for the Movement to reach climate neutrality, and strengthening youth involvement in Scouting by implementing a youth engagement strategy and enhancing youth participation in the World Scout Committee.
Three new Member Organizations from Viet Nam, Afghanistan and the Solomon Islands were formally welcomed this Conference, bringing WOSM’s official membership to 172 National Scout Organizations representing 57 million young people around the world.
Finally, the Conference decided that the 26th World Scout Jamboree will be hosted in 2027 by the Polish National Scout Organization, Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego, the 17th World Scout Moot in 2025 will be hosted by the Portuguese National Scout Organization, Federação Escutista de Portugal, and the 43rd World Scout Conference will be hosted by the Egyptian Scout Federation in 2024.
Looking to the future, the proposed draft objectives of the World Triennial Plan were endorsed by Member Organizations during the Conference to be implemented from 2021-2024. The final version of the Triennial Plan, which will now undergo a reality check and approval by the World Scout Committee, will guide the strategic direction of the Scout Movement as it works towards achieving its Strategy for Scouting, Vision 2023.