THE United Nation’s annual and latest conference on climate change, COP 26 in Glasgow, is due to end on Friday after deliberating for two weeks about the latest measures to achieve planet earth longevity.
Mindful of the adverse effects climate change carries, scouts from around the world, including Scouts South Africa, have also made their own contribution to the cause.
Bear Grylls, as the chief ambassador of the world scouting movement, represented scouts at COP 26.
Locally, the movement has included climate change awareness initiatives as part of personal development requirements in their youth programmes.
Dr Brendon Hausberger, the chief scout of South Africa, said they have made it a priority to educate and equip young people with the ability to recognise the impact of their own habits and how to rectify them to effect change within their communities.
“Children and youth aged 5 to 30 – are taking action. They are cleaning their communities, beaches, ports, heritage sites, and local parks.
Kids are recycling, upcycling, and planting trees and shrubs to mitigate the harm being done as their #PromiseToThePlanet. Others are lobbying for change with bigger corporations.”
Hausberger listed environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, desertification, rising sea levels and changing climate patterns as phenomena that affected how we live and work.
Therefore, they have guided youth on how to make present-day “climate-resilient changes” for positive future impacts.
“Green technology, innovation and productivity is on the rise. The skills scouting members acquire now will not only enhance their future employability, but also enable them to actively contribute to creating more inclusive and greener economies and societies,” said Hausberger.
Colin Bouwer, leader of the 1st Ballito Scouts group, KwaZulu-Natal, said their programme, throughout the year, includes environment-friendly initiatives, which included their “cubs” doing a forest clean-up while scouts did marine clean-ups.
Another project they were involved with in 2021 was the creation of “eco-bricks”, which basically was the stuffing of 2-litre bottles with plastic items they collected.
Bouwer said the eco-bricks were then used to build houses.
He noticed that the children were aware of the environmental challenges that existed, having learnt from places like school or their organisation.
“Instead of reading about the challenges, we provide an environment where children can do something about addressing the concerns. We also prepare them to run their own projects in future,” said Bouwer.
In a statement released by the movement, Grylls said: “When it comes to climate change, one thing’s incredibly clear. We’re running out of time.”
Grylls mentioned that twenty of the hottest years on record happened in the last 22 years.
He highlighted that the Greenland “Ice Sheet”, the second largest mass of ice after Antarctica, was melting seven times above its average.
“If the entire sheet were to melt, global sea levels would rise by seven metres and decimate every coastal town and city in the world. COP 26, the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, is a pivotal moment in stopping this slide to catastrophe.
“I’m attending, not just as chief ambassador of World Scouting, but as a father, and citizen of our planet, who believes we must take a stand before it’s too late.”
He warned about the dangers of deforestation and the consequences if it continues unabated.
“We’re losing the equivalent of 30 football pitches of forest every minute, and within a century, our rainforests could vanish completely. These are the lungs of the earth and home to 80% of the world’s land-based plants, animals and insects. Without our forests, our future as a species is untenable. This is not alarmist talk. These are the facts that our scientists have been telling us for years.”
Grylls said the good news was that things were changing, but slowly.
“Denmark, the UK, Portugal, Costa Rica and others, are now making big changes and implementing more progressive policies. People want a better future, and they’ll hold leaders to account if they’re not prepared to work towards it.”
He said one of the reasons for the change was young people.
“They’re putting pressure on world leaders to face up to their responsibilities.
It’s our moment to say enough is enough. We’re uniting 57 million scouts around the world to use their voice in the fight for our planet’s future.”