Message from Chief Commissioner Andrew Tanner
Since 2013 Scouts all around the world have contributed more than one billion hours of service towards sustainable development through local projects under the banner of the Messengers of Peace initiative. SCOUTS South Africa members have also contributed to this fantastic initiative which needs us all to double our efforts!! So, what can you do?
When the United Nations Member States adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 they understood that it would not be possible to build a peaceful world if steps were not taken to achieve economic and social development for all people everywhere, and ensure that their rights were protected.
In 2018 the World Organisation of the Scout Movement signed an agreement with the UN that saw its 50 million members worldwide commit to addressing the SDGs in their programmes and subsequent actions. SCOUTS South Africa embraced the “Scouts for SDGs” campaign with National challenges for Meerkats and Cubs as well as the SDG Champion Award for Scouts, Rovers and Adults
If I look at what we as SCOUTS South Africa have been contributing it quickly becomes apparent that our members have been and are very actively contributing through projects. When we all participate in our Scouting programmes, a variety of SDGs are regularly being addressed. I could elaborate on all of them but will limit myself to three today.
The 2019 theme for the recent International Day of Peace was “Climate Action for Peace”. The theme draws attention to the 13th SDG and to the importance of combatting climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world. For many years SCOUTS South Africa has been running specific climate change programmes, including environmental education camps. Furthermore, combatting climate change was written into the new advancement programmes. Climate change causes clear threats to peace and security. Natural disasters – as we have seen over the past years in many countries, including SA forest fires and droughts have endangered food security and health and have contributed to the growing tensions in our country. Peace can only be achieved if concrete action is taken to combat climate change and that is why Scouting members have been stepping up.
Recent events in our country have also highlighted the importance of addressing SDG 1, which strives to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. More than 90% of SCOUTS South Africa’s members come from impoverished areas. The life skills taught through our programmes give young people a head start in their lives as they complete their education and start work , Scouting produces confident young adults who are able to lead, plan, work in teams and have a variety of skills. Above all they are responsible, disciplined and ethical citizens who are ready to be employed and get themselves out of poverty.
With the surge of violence against women and girls, it’s also important to highlight how SCOUTS South Africa addresses the 5th SDG. SCOUTS South Africa opened its doors to girls in 2000. Girls and boys engage as equals and partake in the same programmes. They get the same leadership opportunities, attend the same training courses and learn the same skills as part of the advancement programmes. By interacting with each other at Den, Pack, Troop, Crew and adult leadership levels, mutual respect, understanding and a sense of equality are formed. By ensuring equal opportunities and driving mutual respect, Scouting not only achieves gender equality, but ensures the empowerment of women and girls.
I urge you to remember that it is the role of each and every one of us to keep our Promise and to do our Duty to our Country, as we strive to create a better world in which the SDGs have been met and we as SCOUTS have played leading roles and truly Done our Best
Keep up the good work!
Chief Commissioner, SCOUTS South Africa
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