80th Executive Committee Meeting – Navigating the next 18-24 months out of Covid-19

Resilience, recovery and reimagination – the three pillars of the World YMCA response to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 – were the themes running through the agenda at the 80th Executive Committee online meeting of Friday-Saturday 30-31 October 2020.

“Five years ago, none of us could have imagined that our 2020 would be anything like this”, said World YMCA President Patricia Pelton, “The Covid pandemic of 2020 means that we have to bring our horizons nearer to us. While definitely a huge challenge, we should see it as an accelerator of change, and opportunity for change.”

The Committee agreed the 2021 budget, the 2021-2022 recovery strategy, a new safeguarding policy, and the launch of a consultation with YMCA National Movements on proposed changes to the World YMCA Constitution.

It discussed reports presented by its Strategy, Finance, Movement Relevance, Governance and Elections Sub-Committees. It reviewed the 56-country ‘Padare’ debates of July-August which launched the Reimagination process, and heard updates on the disbursement of the YMCA Solidarity Fund currently helping 27 YMCA National Movements struggling under Covid-109.

The Committee also discussed the Secretary-General’s written report on the year to date, and his spoken address highlighting priorities and directions for the year to come.

The 2020 report charted how the Covid-19 strategy had run in parallel with the work done under the ongoing 2018-2022 strategy and workplan, founded on the three pillars of building external relevance as the world’s chosen partner in youth empowerment, building internal relevance in serving its 120 YMCA National Movements, and ensuring financial sustainability.

The 2021 address explored different scenarios for the depth and duration of the change brought about by Covid, and the depth and durability of World YMCA’s appetite for change in response.

Secretary-General Carlos Sanvee signposted four axes for World YMCA work in 2021: its plans for consultation on potential changes to its constitution and governance as above; its continued strengthening of National Movements in their financial and operational recovery; its further development of the Youth Led Solutions Initiative (as the October 2020 climate action summit moves to the project funding stage, and with jobs and mental health summits planned for 2021); and its consolidation of its five global YMCA Communities of Impact (‘Refugees and Migrants’, ‘Employment and Livelihoods’, ‘Mental Health’, ‘Policy and Advocacy’, ‘Climate Action’) which will all be up and running by the end of November 2020.

The group was addressed at the start of the meeting by Ignacio Packer, executive director of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies, whose own 2030 Strategy mirrored that of World YMCA. It also discussed continuing cooperation with 1500 Ys Men clubs globally.

The next meeting will be held on 19-22 March 2021, hopefully in World YMCA’s new headquarters in Geneva, to which it plans to move by year-end.