Blog | COP26 & Our Promise to the Planet

Blog | COP26 & Our Promise to the Planet

09 November 2021

Written by Callum Holt, Scotland Commissioner (Community Impact)

COP26 & Our Promise to the Planet: The legacy of COP26 must be more than two weeks of road closures.

Don’t worry, you read that opener 100% correctly. It isn’t intended to be sarcastic or diminishing of the task that lies ahead for governments, their delegates and people around the world. It isn’t even intended to be an accurate representation of how people in the central belt (myself included!) feel right now.

What it does highlight though, is how sometimes it becomes so easy to not see the wood for the trees (no pun intended). COP26 has been hailed time and time again as the last real chance to prevent the world from entering a point of no return, to ensure that generations of humanity ahead of us have a chance to enjoy this wonderful planet as much as we do, and to some extent, take for granted in doing so.

Our young people have increasingly told us about the importance of climate change, our need to act, and our need to educate and inform the discussion at all levels. Our own Scouts Scotland MSYPs Morven Bayton and Gregor Mitchell said that they hope that the legacy of COP26 means that decision makers start to think about the next generation of young people in every decision that they make and that the legacy of COP26 has to be more than just words.

It’s why as part of our A Million Hands campaign we’ve partnered with WWF to protect our environment.  It’s why as an organisation nationally, we’re asking our Scout Adventure Centres and our teams at Fordell Firs, Meggernie and Lochgoilhead to make sure their day to day practice is as environmentally friendly as it can be. It's also why Scouts Scotland in partnership with our friends from UK Scouts and WOSM, were at COP26. Representing the views of Scouts from around the world to call on those with the power to do so, to enact real change.

But negotiations, delegations, agreements and huge shifts will take time. Time that we don’t have. We have to act now. That’s why for us, the legacy beyond COP26 has to be in our #PromiseToThePlanet. As Scouts, we’ve committed to take action now and we’re asking all of you to do the same. We’ve produced resources to help you take action locally on issues that matter you to, and we’d love you to record what you’re doing here.

Our young people and volunteers are already taking action from our youngest members – the Squirrels from Bridge of Allan who have already become local superheroes by picking up litter. We’ve also seen the whole of the North East Region come together to Tidy the Trash. We’ve seen Scouts in the 25th Braid take local action by planting wildflowers and making composters.  With the world leaders together at COP26 I hope that the actions and hopes of our young people wont be let down.

The legacy of COP26 ultimately won’t be seen by any of us. It’ll be seen by future generations of young people who will either praise their ancestors for doing what humanity needed them to at a moment of crisis, or condemning them for failing to take serious action.

Baden Powell once reflected that we should all try and leave the world a little better than we found it. Our opportunity here and now, is to do exactly that.