The environment at the core of Scouting
“Nature study is the key activity in Scouting and Guiding.” - Baden-Powell
Through Scouting, young people are given the opportunities to experience and connect with nature. Nature is central to Scouting as it is one of the eight elements of the Scout method, and environmental protection plays a central role in the active citizens that Scouting creates.
Environmental education has played a prominent role in the Scout Movement since it was founded. The Scout Centres of Excellence for Nature and Environment (SCENES) and the World Conservation Badge were among the significant environmental programme initiated in the 20th century. Established in 2008, The World Scout Environment Programme (WSEP) has been offering tools, resources and initiatives for all ages to help Scouts all around the world work together environmental action. To learn more about the World Scout Environment Programme and SCENES Centres, check the featured links below.
NOTE: In June 2020 a reshaped and enhanced WSEP has been introduced across the Scout Movement in collaboration with partner organisations, that aims to unite young people in a global community to become champions in preserving and protecting the planet. The new initiative, Earth Tribe, encompasses some elements and badges from the WSEP yet is formalized around a set of educational paths for young people to start their environmental journeys. Find out more about the Earth Tribe initiative on its dedicated page http://earthtribe.scout.org
Introduction and history of the World Scout Environment Programme
Environmental Education in Scouting aims to help Scouts to work towards a world where:
- People and natural systems have clean water and clean air
- Sufficient natural habitat exists to support native species
- The risk of harmful substances to people and the environment are minimised
- The most suitable environmental practices are used
- People are prepared to respond to environmental hazards and natural disasters
The WSEP offers tools, resources and initiatives to help Scouts worldwide work together for the improvement of the local and global environment. Through it, Scouts get to engage in environmental education activities where they learn more about nature and the environment. The knowledge acquired through this programme empowers them to make informed choices about the environment, people and society – choices that reflect the Scout Promise and Law. When the WSEP was launched in 2008, the World Scout Environment Badge under its programme replaced the World Conservation Badge. The World Conservation Badge was limited to the conservation of the environment, compared to the World Scout Environment Badge which has a holistic focus on Environmental Education in Scouting, which is related but not limited to environmental conservation, protection, preservation, promotion and sustainability. The World Scout Environment Badge programme focuses on the environment in a broad sense and encourages Scouts to have a holistic awareness of the natural world and how their day-to-day actions impact it, progressively building a sense of personal responsibility for the environment. The badge is presented to Scouts in recognition of their learning and commitment to the environment. Scout Centres of Excellence for Nature and Environment (SCENES) SCENES forms a vital part of the WSEP, developing and promoting environmental education and management. Its centres not only offer the natural area to explore and learn about the environment, but environmental education while acting as a role model for environmental management activities. Environment Partnership Environment Partnership refers to the partnerships the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) has with environment-related organisations at any level, in which the Scout Movement can contribute through environmental education for the common and shared goals for the improvement of the environment. WOSM has partnerships with many organisations such as Alcoa Foundation, Clean Up the World, Greenpeace, Jane Goodall Institute, The Web of Hope, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Volvo Adventure and United Nations agencies such as United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Today, Scouts from all over the world are engaged in various environmental education and action on issues ranging from climate change, green living, and renewable energy to natural disasters. The environment is a global subject and Scouting is a global movement. Through environmental education and action, Scouting can really make a difference in creating a better world.
Frequently asked questions
What do the World Scout Environment Programme logo and World Scout Environment Badge mean?
At the centre of the World Scout Environment Programme logo is Antarctica - the only collectively managed continent in the world and one of the most at risk from climate change. The other landforms createa ‘world’ image - not showing any one particular continent or country, as Scouts are encouraged to look beyond their own borders and think of the world. The colours of blue, green and white are commonly associated with nature and the purple of World Scouting is blended with these. The Sun which brings life to our world is reflected in the water. In the World Scout Environment Programme logo, the world is supported by three leaves to symbolise water, air and plants which are all important environmental elements to support life. The World Scout Emblem shows that it is an official programme of the World Organization of the Scout Movement and its inclusion as a registered trademark gives the logo legal protection. The words ‘World Scout Environment Programme’ are written with the graphic image and can be translated into other languages. The World Scout Environment Badge has the same world image as used in the logo, encompassed by a circle of rope which reminds us that we are all connected on this one world. There are three colours of rope, incorporating colours used within the world image, to show the progression made by Scouts as they move through the sections and advance their appreciation of the environment. The rope colours are blue for Cub Scouts, green for Scouts and purple for Rover Scouts. Please do not make modifications to the image of the World Scout Environment Badge or World Scout Environment Programme logo.
Where can I get the World Scout Environment Badges and Certificates from?
The World Scout Environment Badges and Certificates are made available to the official representative of a National Scout Association/Organization that has been appointed in the World Scout Environment Programme Agreement. The Agreement is available from the World Scout Bureau and online at www.scout.org/environment with two options: Pack 1 (non-commercial use) or Pack 2 (commercial use). The World Scout Environment Badges and Certificates can then be purchased from the Scoutstore, the Official World Scout Shop for distribution within the National Scout Association/ Organization. The World Scout Environment Badges and Certificates are not available for purchase by individuals so as to help ensure the badges remain as a recognisable symbol of a Scout’s exploration of the environment and an achievement by our youth members.
Can we make the World Scout Environment Badges ourselves?
For consistency of production, efficiency of delivery, monitoring and evaluation purposes, National Scout Associations/Organizations are requested not to make the World Scout Environment Badges, but to order them from the Scoutstore. This provides a central contact point for delivery to any country in the world. The Badges are priced at near-cost price to reduce expenses for Scouts earning the World Scout Environment Badge.
What happens to the World Scout Conservation Badge (Panda badge)?
The 38th World Scout Conference passed the Resolution 22/08 which recommended the World Conservation Badge to be phased out during the next triennium by National Scout Organizations which use it. National Scout Organizations were encouraged to adopt the framework for environment education in Scouting and incorporate the ideas through a regular review of their youth programme and by offering the World Scout Environment Badge. This helps to bring the environment education dimension of the youth programme up to date with the situation of today. WWF have been fully supportive of this transition to the World Scout Environment Badge.
How can we show the progressive stages for our youth members to earn the World Scout Environment Badge when they move up to the next age section?
In response to feedback received from several National Scout Organizations to show progress of youth members earning the World Scout Environment Badge and to encourage them to earn the badge in their next age section, two further variations to the World Scout Environment Badge have been developed. The three stages now consist of the same central world image, surrounded by a blue rope (Cub Scouts), green rope (Scouts) and purple rope (Rover Scouts). The rope colours correspond to the colours used in other parts of the World Scout Environment Badge to link it with the ‘environment’ and ‘World Scouting’ themes, and to keep the production costs of the badge consistent.
Where does the World Scout Environment Badge go on the uniform?
The placement of the World Scout Environment Badge on a Scout’s uniform is the decision of the National Scout Association/Organization, in accordance with its existing policies about how badges should be worn on the uniform.
How can I earn the World Scout Environment Badge?
When a National Scout Association/ Organization has signed the Agreement, the Scouts are welcome to earn the World Scout Environment Badge, in accordance with the programme advice given by their National Scout Association/ Organization. The World Scout Environment Badge is based on the ‘framework for environment education in Scouting and the World Scout Environment Badge’ which is available online or in the World Scout Environment Programme Kit. The framework is based on the principles and aims for environment education in Scouting and encourages a progressive learning process as Scouts develop a greater awareness and understanding about the environment and the world around them. For a Scout to earn the World Scout Environment Badge, they should first explore and reflect on each of the five aims covering: 1. Air and Water; 2. Habitats and Species; 3. Harmful Substances; 4. Environmental Practices; and 5. Environmental Hazards and Natural Disasters. They should then consider how they can take action based on their learning experiences and undertake an environmental project. This approach encourages a holistic exploration of the environment and provides flexibility of its application for National and local levels of Scouting. National Scout Associations/ Organizations should consider the framework in the process of reviewing their youth programme, applying it with consideration of the environmental conditions and needs of their country. They may wish to apply the framework in a way which connects with similar dimensions of their existing programmes and expand on other areas that could be improved. The National Scout Association/ Organization may feel it appropriate to establish more specific requirements to support their youth members exploration of the environment, respecting the intention of the principles and aims for environment education in Scouting and framework.