As the year draws to a close, we reflect on a year of growth and impact at Raleigh International.
17th December 2021
2021 was a major year for the planet. In a second pandemic year, as a global community we have continued to face many challenges and our thoughts go out to everyone for whom this year has been difficult. The pandemic has continued to have an impact on young people and our work. But despite being another year of uncertainty, 2021 has also marked a year of growth and impact for Raleigh International. Glasgow’s COP26 summit in October highlighted the continued significance of our environmental work as world leaders reaffirmed the need for global action to end the climate crisis. We know, now more than ever, that Raleigh International is firmly placed at the forefront of these efforts, with 2021 being a year where we expanded our work to protect our planet in new and exciting ways.
This year we proudly launched our first ever global environmental campaign. Action Not Excuses is a global movement mobilising young people to take action for the planet. Since launching in March, we have already built a community of over 1,300 young people (and counting!) from around the world who are connecting over their shared climate activism through our Action Not Excuses platform.
In 7 countries young people have created and are leading on exciting Action Not Excuses initiatives; Greentalist in Costa Rica, Dame Chance in Nicaragua, Kesho Tutachelewa in Tanzania, Circular Futures in Malaysia, Urban Nomads in Mongolia, Kathmandu Recycles in Nepal and Unravelled in the UK. These initiatives represent hundreds of young people leading climate action on campaigns that aim to either fight for zero waste, reverse deforestation or create green jobs.
As part of the Action Not Excuses campaign we launched a number of Action Challenges, and were especially proud to partner with the Woodland Trust to launch our Tree Planting Action Challenge this autumn. Through the Challenge 11 tree planting events were held across the UK, bringing together over 180 tree planters to plant trees and conserve British nature.
This year saw the launch of Re:Green, our first ever UK programme in Scotland, which has been a monumental success. On Re:Green over 120 pioneer volunteers have taken climate action to protect nature in Scotland’s rainforest and surrounding Highlands. The programme received international attention as we welcomed indigenous leaders from Association Jiboiana for a special rainforest blessing in October, as well as attracting star power with a visit from youth activist Jack Harries, who featured Re:Green in his ground-breaking series ‘A Seat at the Table’.
We were thrilled to relaunch our flagship Expedition programme in Costa Rica in September after an 18-month break due to the pandemic. We are so proud to have safely placed volunteers back in the driving seat of development through our Expeditions and are excited to welcome more volunteers back on Expeditions in 2022 in Costa Rica and Nepal.
Young people also continued to lead development projects on national youth programmes. Youth in Tanzania, Nepal and Nicaragua continued to collaborate on the ExCel programme, while our RISE programme restarted in September to support youth livelihoods after pausing due to COVID-19. Regrettably this year saw the early conclusion of our Social Accountability through Youth (SAY) programme in Tanzania due to UK Aid Direct funding cuts. Despite this early finish, we are proud that 408 young people were able to introduce new accountability mechanisms to 900,000 people across more than 200 communities, increasing the impact of community-based projects and services, undoubtedly changing lives.
A year of success is nothing without the support from our partners. In 2021 we continued our valued partnerships with Chadwick Textiles, Enzyme Communications, GLIDE, Gripple, Johnson & Johnson, Mazars, Reckitt and VolkerFitzpatrick, while also breaking fresh ground through new partnerships with Swiss Contact, Clear Channel, Air Partner and Finastra.
In the summer we ran our first ever Youth Hackathon series, a One Young World initiative in which 150 employees from the global pharmaceutical sector hacked challenges faced by Raleigh National Societies. In December we launched the ‘Power of Collaboration’ report, which shared the impact of our partnership with Reckitt on the Tanzania behaviour change project known locally as ‘Healthier Lives Happier Homes’, and the transformations in WASH behaviours achieved through youth-business collaboration.
We were blown away when our supporters from across the Raleigh community backed us through our Big Give Christmas fundraiser, in which we raised an incredible £42,730! We are so thankful for the generosity of all our donors, who in true Raleigh spirit united to provide more opportunities for disadvantaged youth on Re:Green.
We know that times will continue to be challenging moving into another pandemic year, but from 2021 we know that Raleigh International has a steel heart of resilience, as do the young people that continue to stand for a better world with us. 2022 will mark 30 years since we evolved from Operation Raleigh into Raleigh International, and since then we are proud to have continued to evolve and grow into the global youth action organisation we are today. We hope you will join us and young people on our journey in 2022 to make it another year of action.
From everyone at Raleigh International, we wish you season’s greetings and a Happy New Year.