World YMCA Youth Empowerment Vision
Environment and Climate Change

As the population that will inherit today’s climate challenges, young people care deeply about the environment and the future of life on our planet. United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13 implores all of us to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact: “Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow…The poorest and most vulnerable people are being affected the most. Affordable, scalable solutions are now available to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies. The pace of change is quickening as more people are turning to renewable energy and a range of other measures that will reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts. Climate change, however, is a global challenge that does not respect national borders. It is an issue that requires solutions that need to be coordinated at the international level to help developing countries move toward a low-carbon economy.”

A June 2017 Pew Research Center indicates that more than 80 percent of Millennials in the U.S. from both political parties say there is solid evidence of global warming. Most of them (65 percent) attribute that change to human activity, compared to only 40-53 percent of older generations. Further, Close to half a million youth globally have already taken action on climate change through the United Nations Small Grants Programmes. It is imperative that young people are included in climate solutions. One of the challenges, however, is that not all young people have access to basic environmental education and the outdoors. Longstanding economic, racial, and gender disparities impede youth of all background from learning, networking and advocating about climate issues.

YMCA is committed to advancing global conservation and responsibility to reduce the effects of climate change through youth-led education programs and advocacy initiatives that improve environmental awareness, civic engagement and advocacy at the local, national, regional and global levels. YMCA also believes that all youth should learn, grow and thrive through transformational experiences that build an appreciation for nature. YMCA is committed to scale efforts to increase youth access to knowledge, information and learning opportunities to advance global progress toward the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:
• 12 Responsible Consumption and Production
• 13 Climate Action,
• 14 Life Below Water
• 15 Life on Land

Current Capacity & Impact
YMCAs around the world promote environmental responsibility and action through innovative education and civic engagement efforts. Over 2 million young people around the world create meaningful connections to nature every year through YMCA outdoor leadership programs, overnight camps, day camps, service learning initiatives and formal and informal education programs. YMCAs own and operate over 300 resident camps in over 40 countries each year reaching hundreds of thousands of youth. YMCA intentionally partners with a wide range of governmental, foundation, private sector, nonprofit and university partners to develop youth leadership skills and improve environmental responsibility and grassroots interventions around the world. The World YMCA has convened global youth leaders since 2011 to advocate for new strategies to address climate change since 2011. This includes YMCA youth delegations at COP-21 in Paris in 2015 and the 2018 Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland in December 2018. Several initiatives, such as the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs Green Ambassadors, educate youth to reduce the effects of climate change and carbon emissions through online education and regional training. The YMCA of Greater Seattle’s Youth Earth Service Corps empowers students to create a healthier environment in their schools, communities and region through education and service projects.

YMCA is seeking partners to strengthen and scale innovative youth environment and climate change initiatives around the world to reach at least 3 million youth annually by 2022 through educational outreach, community partnerships and grassroots campaigns.