YMCA announces further investment in youth-led solutions and young leaders at COP26

Date: 12 November 2021

Press Release

Friday 12 November 2021


At a time when a great deal is being promised and not yet delivered, YMCA will today announce plans to invest a further $150,000 in their Youth-Led Solutions Initiative, which has so far impacted more than 38,000 people across the world.

The global youth movement’s initiative puts its faith and investment in young people into practice by delivering critical resources and funding firmly into the hands of young leaders, and has already invested more than $250,000 of seed funding into youth-led solutions designed to address global issues right now.

Carlos Sanvee, Secretary General of World YMCA, said: “This investment is part of YMCA’s ambition to raise $1 million by the end of 2022 to enable and empower young people’s ideas and solutions in battling climate change. While there have been many speeches made at COP26 about investing and believing in young people, young people themselves remain in the dark about what that actually means.

“This funding is a chance to shed a little light and reaffirm our commitment to young people today and in the years to come, and we welcome delegates from the public and private sector and academia to join us on our journey to advance youth-led action.

“As a global movement with direct access to communities and young people making a real difference to the world every day, we fully support the sentiment of many young people at COP26 that young people are not the future, they are the present. Urgent action and investment is needed today.”

This next stage of funding will be officially announced as part of an exclusive film premier hosted by YMCA Scotland, where a documentary commissioned especially for COP26’s Green Zone programme will highlight six different projects made possible by Youth-Led Solutions. $25,000 of this new investment comes from proceeds of Earth thanks to Dave Burd, also known as YouTube sensation Lil Dicky, who released the song in 2019 with all revenue going on to fund projects to help fight climate change.

The six Youth-Led Solution projects featured in the film span vermi-composting in Hawaii; inorganic waste management in Peru; training a new generation of eco-leaders in Philippines and USA; reforesting in Kosovo; creating micro-green spaces in Palestine; and even using up-cycled waste to make climate art in Zambia.

Kerry Reilly, CEO of YMCA Scotland, said: “This investment is just one example of how YMCA as a global movement is deepening its commitment to youth-led global change, and how it enables young people to achieve their goals every single day.

“YMCA Scotland is extremely passionate about empowering young people to take climate action into their own hands, and so to host an event not only showcasing the inspiration of youth-led solutions to address global issues, but also a commitment to continue the funding that made it all possible really is an honour.”

Two years ago, YMCA launched the Youth-Led Solutions initiative to mentor, train and support the development of young people’s solutions to issues of climate justice, employment and mental health. In October 2020, it held its first Summit on climate action, subsequently funding 35 new youth-led initiatives around the world.

YMCA has witnessed and helped facilitate the difference youth-led solutions make first-hand, and is calling on government, organisations and fellow supporters to invest in this initiative right now and help our young leaders widen their vital impact.

YMCA will build upon the first round of seed grants (ranging $3,000-$10,000) to provide funding to strengthen and scale innovative youth-led solutions in order to deepen and expand our collective impact on climate action. Teams who have successfully completed solutions from the first round of grants are eligible to apply for funding to expand their ideas, with new solutions also welcome. Applications will open in January 2022. Subscribe to receive updates here.

Friday’s film screening will take place at the Glasgow IMAX Theatre as part of COP26’s official Green Zone programme. Tickets are currently sold out, but sign up now to be reminded when the livestream starts here.

For more information on YMCA’s involvement at COP26, including access to events and daily blogs from delegates, please visit: https://www.ymca.int/cop26/ or follow @WorldYMCA / #YMCACOP26.


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For more information and a list of spokespeople, or to make interview requests, please contact Aimee Reilly on aimee.reilly@ymca.org.uk / +447863 620084.

Notes to Editors


About World YMCA

Each year YMCA works with 60 million people across 120 counties. Its goal is to be the go-to global youth empowerment organisation that empowers, inspires and mobilises young people to find and share their voice on the issues that matter to them and to the world.

Across the world, YMCA supports young people for personal, community and global social impact. It provides a space to bring about transformation and make a positive impact on the world.

Of YMCA’s 120 member countries, 70 are currently running more than 2,400 community programmes on environment-related issues, involving and impacting over 230,000 people.

With 90,000 staff and one million volunteers working in more than 12,000 branches in local communities worldwide, its work touches the lives of some 65 million people every year.


YMCA Youth-Led Solutions Initiative:


  • Youth-led solutions
  • Addresses UN Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate Action
  • Creates impact in a local, national, or regional community
  • Is innovative, feasible, replicable, and sustainable
  • Leverages private, public, and/or local community partnerships
  • If a team has received funding in the past, must have successfully completed all reporting requirements


  • January-February 2022- application period for climate action grants
  • March 2022- applications for seed funding are reviewed and approved to deepen climate action impact
  • April-October 2022: youth-led teams activate their solutions at the grassroots
  • July 2022: youth-led solutions best practices are shared at YMCA World Council in Aarhus, Denmark
  • Ongoing: Virtual connection points connecting youth-led teams globally