Meet the new World YMCA’s UN Advocacy Group

Climate change. Equality. Poverty. Us vs them. These and many others are all issues impacting the future of the world’s children and young people today. On any local, national and global issue young people need to be heard loud and clear, because young voices matter. YMCA is there for more than 58 million young people globally, which makes it our duty to empower young people to speak up, share their ideas and voice their concerns on improving our common global society.

YMCA is one of the largest and oldest youth organizations in the world. With that history comes a special accreditation to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, which we received 72 years ago. It is both a privilege and a responsibility to make use of our right to be there and have a seat at the table, giving a voice to young people across the world.

In order to leverage the wealth of experience across the movement, World YMCA has launched its first United Nations Advocacy Group. After receiving dozens of applications from around the world, a vigorous selection process followed and today World YMCA proudly presents the members of the UN Advocacy Group to serve over the next two years:

– Phillippa Lewis, YMCA England & Wales
– Milla Mäkinen, YMCA Finland
– Zinta Akpoko, YMCA Nigeria
– Stefanie Tornow, YMCA Germany (Bonn)
– Joe Fifield, YMCA of the USA (Greater Twin Cities)
– Karla Maria Contreras Rodriguez, YMCA Guatemala
– Ana Clara Castillo, YMCA Uruguay
– Amanda Gailiss, YMCA Australia (Victoria)
– Da Eun Yang, YMCA Korea
– Eugene Lucien MBEE, YMCA Cameroon
– Dorina Davies, YMCA Kosovo
– Sokthea Phay, YMCA of the USA (Greater Long Beach)

All UN Advocacy Group members will be flying to New York at the beginning of April for a three-day training course and planning meeting hosted by Frost Valley YMCA. Straight after, the group will attend the ECOSOC Youth Forum from 8-9 April at the UN Headquarters. There they will be joined by the rest of the YMCA delegation including a group of their peers, World YMCA staff, and World YMCA officers.

What is the purpose of the UN Advocacy Group?

– Position YMCA as a global leader and the go-to organization in making young people’s voices heard at the UN;
– Increase the visibility of the YMCA movement on the global stage, especially by showcasing our initiatives which are contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
– Increase the visibility of the UN among the YMCA Movements, creating a two-way communication (from YMCA to the UN and from the UN to YMCA).

What will the Group do?

– Represent World YMCA at strategic UN events throughout the year;
– Prepare position papers on various issues important to young people and which are a priority for YMCA;
– Advocate on the strategic issues of YMCA in UN-related processes;
– Prepare written statements to be sent to the United Nations, when invited to do so;
– Inform the national movements about the highlights of our participation in UN-related processes, as well as various opportunities that are available;
– Inform the UN about the work national movements are doing to advance the Sustainable Development Goals, increasing the visibility of those initiatives.

Stay tuned to the World YMCA social media channels for updates throughout the week under #YoungVoicesMatter.

For more information on the UN Advocacy Group please contact;  World YMCA UN Advocacy Coordinator –  Răzvan-Victor Sassu (Twitter: @RazvanSassu).