FAO encourages girl guides and scouts to lead climate action around the world

Did you know that there are more than 10 million girl guides and girl scouts in 152 countries in the world? Did you also know that their movement has been building girls of courage, confidence and character who have been making the world a better place for more than 100 years? It's no surprise that these girls and young women want to fight the global climate crisis.

Recognising this, FAO, through the Youth and United Nations Global Alliance (YUNGA) is collaborating with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting associations acrossAsia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean to educate and empower girls and young women to lead effective climate action in their communities.

“Girls (in Latin America and the Caribbean) are worried about how climate change is affecting them and their communities, but they're also incredibly motivated to make a change and improve their communities' response to climate change. It's inspiring to see their work and dedication”

Explained Jorge Sánchez Hernández, a project manager from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Climate change is one of the greatest threats we face today, and women are increasingly being affected by the impacts of climate change than men. More extreme and less predictable weather patterns and increased food and water insecurity combine with gender inequality to leave women more vulnerable.

During a recent series of workshops in Latin America and the Caribbean, 27 national girl guide associations from Dominica, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama were involved in co-creating the educational curriculum for the 9 different national associations.

Developed in collaboration with United Nations agencies, civil society and other organizations, YUNGA has developed a series of Challenge Badges, including one on climate change, that are intended to raise awareness, educate and motivate young people to change their behaviour and become active agents of change in the local community. The Challenge Badges are used by teachers in school classes as well as by youth leaders, especially of Guide or Scout groups.

All the girls actively participated in the workshops, many insisting that civic action in their communities is key to fighting the climate crisis.

“I think it’s important to teach them [young women] always seek to improve their community, not only as individuals, but also by learning and planning to work as a team and be able to be proactive and promote any project related to environmental awareness in their communities” said Elisa Garcia from Mexico.

“Education is the basis of everything, and if girls grow up in sustainable systems with habits instilled in them, they will teach them to future generations and the day will come when everyone follows them” added Catalina Trunzo from Argentina.

From regional, sub-regional and country offices, FAO is providing context-specific advice and contributions to develop the curriculum. Most importantly, FAO will help incorporate behavioural insightsinto the curriculum design to ensure that real shifts are happening among youth towards sustainable and climate friendly behaviours.

“We’ve seen numerous environmental education programmes have been running for decades, yet there has been no dramatic shift in human behavior. That’s why we need to shift from the ‘business as usual’ education to climate change programmes that are building on latest insights into behavioural science to promote long-lasting behavioural change among children and adolescents” said Reuben Sessa, FAO Natural Resources Officer.

The project also plans to organize at least 50 community actions and 18 advocacy campaigns. In addition, 100 leaders and girls will be trained on advocacy, three of whom will be offered the opportunity to attend the United Nations Climate Conference in Egypt (COP27).FAO is also keen to provide active support to improve monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the project as it unfolds.

“Innovative M&E, tools and indicators will help to measure and showcase the long-term behaviour change impacts that this and other educational programmes and initiatives are having” added Reuben Sessa who said that as part of the programme, YUNGA and WAGGGS are also developing a ‘Green Cities’ badge, an ‘Ecosystem Restoration’ badge and a ‘Gender’ badge that reflect FAO’s work in these areas but more importantly encourage young people to take action and influence others in their community to make our world greener, healthier and more climate resilient.

WAGGGS, with a membership of 10 million members, has been a key partner of FAO for over 25 years, working together to engage and empower girls and young women to be active agents of change and to build the global citizens of tomorrow. This long-term collaboration is marked by a pomegranate tree that was planted at FAO Headquarters in 2010.