84th World YMCA Executive Committee Meeting: ‘Let’s make Vision 2030 happen’

YMCA Vision 2030 moved forward. Old friends reunited, and new friendships were formed. And a great deal of work was accomplished during the three-day World YMCA 84th Executive Committee meetings. This was the first meeting of the new Committee elected at YMCA World Council in July 2022.

The Committee and Global Staff Team (GST) members met at World YMCA headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on 28-30 October 2022. The focus throughout the agenda was YMCA Vision 2030, adopted at World Council, which was explored in research reports, small-group work, and discussions. Notably, the Committee voted to adopt the YMCA Vision 2030 Implementation Framework.

World YMCA President Soheila Hayek welcomed the Executive Committee, which includes 11 new members, and stressed how each brings a unique skill set to the YMCA. “I am impressed with each one of you,” she said. “We have doctors, teachers, volunteers, entrepreneurs – all ranges of skills and experiences. Let’s make use of all our abilities and make Vision 2030 happen.”

Added Peter Dinsdale, President and CEO of YMCA Canada, “It was great to come together with the new Executives as they take shape and get to meet with each other, sometimes for the first time,” he said. 

“The highlights for me are always the social opportunities and the ability to take a deep dive into what’s happening in each other’s lives, what we’re doing in our Ys and how we might be able to connect.” 

Along with the meetings, the weekend also included a visit to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and an exploration of the World YMCA archives.

Highlights from the 84th meeting: 

 

Vision 2030

By approving the YMCA Vision 2030 Implementation Framework, which provides a guiding direction on activation, the work continues to move ahead. Based on ongoing conversations with Area Alliances and National Movements, the Framework will continue to be revised, updated and ultimately shared with the Movement.   

“The framework is not yet a defined action plan, but it’s a clear ‘direction of travel’,” said World YMCA Secretary-General Carlos Sanvee. “We are building the plane while we are flying, but don’t worry – we are very safe. Our next step is to circulate a simplified version of the document across the global Movement, and to present an agreed Action Plan to the next Executive Committee meeting in March 2023. By that stage, we will have gone a long way to put in place some of the ‘backbone’ support with which World YMCA and the Area Alliances will support National Movements as they develop their work across the four Vision 2030 Pillars of Impact.”

“Vision 2030 is many things to many people. There are early adopters, while others are getting ready to start implementing as they become clearer about their role. And some are sceptical, due to previous experience with global strategies and the harsh realities they are facing.”

Geneva Graduate Institute

Four students from the Geneva Graduate Institute provided in-depth, research-driven looks at each of the four Vision 2030 Pillars, including definitions, trends and next steps. Among the notable findings:

  • Community Wellbeing: William Cant, “Community wellbeing is intimately connected with solving societal challenges. We are seeing the trend that the rise in individual wellbeing could come at a cost of community wellbeing.” 
  • Meaningful Work: Kyle de Klerk, “The future of work will have higher skill requirements. Youth face a number of challenges, including that they have less experience and fewer skills. And 94 per cent of business leaders expect their workers to acquire skills on the job. To what degree do YMCA programmes address these emerging trends?”
  • Sustainable Planet: Karolina Lagercrantz, “We are facing a triple planetary crisis – pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change. The latter is the world’s most pressing issue. Youth are less resilient because they have fewer resources, they will live longer than older generations, and they will suffer more. What is each of your YMCAs doing to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis? 
  • Just World: Carolina Earle, “We are living in a resurgent age of racism, and a time where discrimination is globalized, normalized and weaponized. This impact is felt differently across communities.”

Look for more details to come on each of those topics. 

New Steering Committee on YMCA Christian identity

The Executive Committee approved the outline goals and plans of a new Movement-wide Steering Committee on ‘Exploring Christian identity, expression and narrative in the 21st Century global YMCA’, the purpose of which is to co-design and lead the conversation towards a unifying position on the issue, while operating as an exemplar for the wider Movement. Young people were recently invited to express interest to join the Committee. High quality applications were received, and the new youth members should be announced later in November. 

YMCA Archives

Housed in the basement of the World YMCA facility, the YMCA Archives are a treasure trove of documents, photos, letters and more from the global YMCA. Claude-Alain Danthe, the World YMCA head of digital strategy, serves as the archivist, and has been with the World YMCA for 39 years. 

The archives contain more than 400 metres of boxes, he said, with much of that from global Movements. Materials date back from the mid-19th century to the 1970s. It is much more difficult to collect and preserve materials now, he said, as the world becomes digital. 

 

FIBA

A tour of the FIBA House of Basketball on Friday 28 October was a hit. A highlight was seeing the replica of the peach basket used by James Naismith. He invented the game at a YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA in 1891, and the cultural heritage of basketball is shared between the YMCA and FIBA. 

Everyone learned more about the FIBA Foundation and its Basketball For Good program, which harnesses the power of basketball to bring about positive change. 

“Youth around the world have an incredible power to create change and to be role models in their communities,” said FIBA Foundation manager Theren (TJ) Bullock Jr. “There is a lot of room to improve, but we can’t do it alone. We need to collaborate with organisations that have been doing this for a long time, and the YMCA is one of them.”

As the meetings wrapped up, new World YMCA Executive Committee member Sarah Bremner of YMCA Scotland said, “For me it was daunting at first, being a young person on the Committee. It’s been a safe space to share ideas and problems and to advance my knowledge.”

Other elements on the agenda included the approval of the official World Council report, and the establishment of Executive Committee sub-committees on Governance & Membership, Strategic Alignment, Finance, and Resource Development, supported by an advisory and coordination sub-committee. The Committee also adopted the 2023 World YMCA operating budget, and discussed the early stages of a YMCA Social Impact Investment Fund.

At the kind invitation of Y USA, the Committee will next meet in Estes Park, Colorado, USA from 30 March to 1 April 2023. The meeting will be preceded by a gathering of YMCA National General Secretaries from around the world on 27-29 March 2023.