Carlos Sanvee: The YMCA is uniquely positioned to make a difference

Date: 18 May 2023

“We have an imperative to make a collective YMCA impact on our world”, said World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee during his presentation at the YMCA World Urban Network (WUN) conference. “It’s the cumulative, combined and multiplied impact of an entire global Movement, pulling together”.

Held 14-19 May 2023 at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in North Carolina, USA, the conference brought together YMCA leaders worldwide. Carlos spoke of our progress as a Movement on YMCA Vision 2030, plans for building support and capacity, and why this is “our time, our moment”.

Find the complete presentation here, and the highlights are below.

Seeking system change

He noted we live in TUNA times: Turbulent. Uncertain. Novel. Ambiguous.  Carlos said we share the same mission. “We all know the scale of the challenge, and we all know that the only solutions are shared solutions”, he said.

Carlos referenced a quote on the Parable of the Good Samaritan from Martin Luther King Jr., It says, in part, “One day we must come to see that the whole of the Jericho Road must be transformed”.

“It was a ‘lightbulb’ moment when I first heard it. It helped me explain to myself and others why we want change”, Carlos said. “We need to bring about ‘system change’, which simply means changing how the world works by addressing the root causes of what is wrong. It also means changing how we in the YMCA work”.

United through Vision 2030

On the surface, he said, Vision 2030 is our shared mission and vision. When we look closer, however, it is much more.

It’s the YMCA’s first common purpose to align a Movement for more significant impact, coherence, and clarity. “It’s changing how we do things, and Vision 2030 can elevate us to a different league – one where we must be playing.”

Since adopting Vision 2030 at the 20th YMCA World Council in Aarhus, Denmark, in July 2022, leaders throughout the Movement have worked to put in place the foundations for the successful implementation of Vision 2030. Those include:

  • Support functions from the World YMCA and Area Alliances
  • ‘Pillar champions’ – National Movements leading work on the four Vision 2030 Pillars
  • Resource development mechanisms
What’s next?

There is a long way to go, said Carlos, before we can truly measure our work and be genuine and effective advocates for systemic change.

Over the following months, the World YMCA will implement Movement Support Teams and Pillar Teams. Both will support Vision 2030 implementation. In the meantime, we will:

  • Set indicators to measure our progress
  • Provide regular updates
  • Meet again as a Movement in 2024

“We are uniquely placed to make a difference”, Carlos said. “We have more local presence than almost any international organisation – we are in 12,000 local communities and counting. Our task is to leverage our vast network for much greater global influence”.