New York, USA
(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Your Royal Highnesses,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since the beginning of time, people of my age have expressed their opinions on ”the youth of today”. Often in a tone of worry.
Therefore, I thought I should take this opportunity to say a few words about my impression of today’s youth.
You see, as Honorary Chairman of the World Scout Foundation, I have the great privilege of spending time with young people, quite regularly.
And let me tell you: when I look at the young people in the Scout movement, I see, not only the leaders of tomorrow – but the leaders of today.
Take, for example, the ‘Circles of Existence’ project between Israeli and Palestinian Scouts. Or Scouts in Sweden and Germany, working to welcome Syrian refugees. Or how Scouting here in the USA is reaching out to include the Hispanic population.
Scouts today are creating the world they want to live in, by making the changes they want to see locally.
And in the most troubling of times, you can always count on the world’s 50 million Scouts to demonstrate courage, leadership, citizenship and service to help others.
Take, for example, the earthquakes in Mexico, Nepal and Haiti. Or the disasters created by hurricanes and tsunamis here in the US, the Philippines, et cetera:
Thousands of Scouts put on their scarves, went to the worst hit areas and helped out. The Scouts are not experts in humanitarian relief or emergency rescues, but they are great leaders. So they used this skill to support those agencies who are experts, so they could do their work even better.
As part of the Messengers of Peace program, Scouts have put in nearly 1,2 billion hours of service in communities around the world, in more than 8 million projects like the ones I mentioned.
But they want to achieve more! They have pledged to contribute with another 3 billion hours of service to the Sustainable Development Goals before the end of 2030.
Creating a Better World is not easy. Nevertheless, as you’ve heard today, the Scouts are doing it – hour by hour.
Ladies and gentlemen: Surely, there are many reasons to worry about the future. Today’s youth however, the youth of the Scout movement, is not such a reason. It is rather the opposite: a reason for hope!