It has been a great privilege to meet many of you during my visits to national movements and area meetings in Latin America, Africa and Europe. To see the movement develop from this perspective has been invigorating, and my best moments have been meeting with young people who, thanks to your efforts, are being empowered to create solutions in their own communities.
In just the first half of the year we’ve witnessed terrorist attacks carried out in Christchurch and Sri Lanka, further evidence of the climate emergency has been felt with historically devastating twin cyclones Idai and Kenneth striking large parts of southern Africa, we’ve seen record-high temperatures in Europe and North America, and there has been extensive flooding in the USA, India and Japan. We are watching a growing humanitarian crisis unfold as the rise in negative rhetoric against refugees and migrants traps innocent civilians and children fleeing war, poverty and injustice between unimaginable misery and a world that has forgotten our collective humanity.
These events have further convinced me that the world’s young people need YMCA more than ever. That’s why I am pleased to share with you some of the steps we have been taking to add value to the movement by creating a robust ecosystem for youth empowerment, increased movement relevance and improved financial sustainability.
Cohort 4 launched in April and has 160 Change Agents from 62 National Movements. YMCA Spain is making a return to the programme while YMCA Ireland is participating for the first time. New content and modules have been developed and will be delivered at the gathering alongside the Change Agents e-learning platform which has already been rolled out.
Communities of Impact
At the NGS meeting in February, it was agreed that the need for radical collaboration within the movement is paramount to increasing our visibility, extending our influence and driving our collective impact. We have identified the following themes to build Communities of Impact (COIs): Mental Health, Youth Employment, Climate Action, Disaster Response and Resilience, and Refugees and Migrants. These COIs will share best practices, test and refine innovative programmes and solutions, and drive impact by inviting external experts and partners to contribute to community goals. We have agreed to launch three COIs in 2019: Mental Health, Youth Employment and Enterprise, and Refugees and Migrants.
Our 2018 audited accounts have been shared and the finance committee is providing regular oversight regarding our fiduciary responsibilities. A quarterly report has been submitted to the finance committee and regular conversations continue with the treasurer to ensure we provide good accountability. The Investment Committee has appointed Hugh Fitzpatrick as its chair and positive results from its changes to our portfolio is expected by end of year. World YMCA is still lacking funds to fully implement Change Agents, the Refugee and Migrant Summit, and the data initiative for our Vision 2044 work.
At our first quarter meeting of the Executive Committee we took our first steps toward a digital transformation by adopting an online board meeting platform which has led to paperless meetings. The committee is structured into four active sub-committees which meet quarterly online. We also managed the first ever full-video conference of the 30 ExCo members for an important decision.
We delivered our first global partnership in May joining the United for Global Mental Health “Speak Your Mind” campaign launching this September. This three-year campaign will advocate governments to unlock more resources for mental health support. YMCAs can opt to join national coalitions to define how they would like to participate. Another exciting collaboration launched at the Haiti Tech Summit in June aimed to include all young people in the digital revolution. We are exploring other strategic partnerships with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Citizen, Adecco Group, The Ocean Project, Wellcome Trust, Jesuit Refugee Service, and several agencies within the United Nations system.
The Resource Mobilisation Sub-Committee was launched at the Executive Committee meeting in March with the aim of leveraging the expertise and networks of key YMCA leaders to collaborate on identifying new funding models that will contribute to the financial sustainability of World YMCA and potentially YMCAs dependant on project structure. The Committee, Chaired by CiCi Rojas, determined several areas of potential engagement: endowments, global philanthropy, impact investment (creating a property development fund, developing or creating a fund to scale global social enterprise), shared value partnerships and creating a shared services offering. It was agreed that for 2019 the Committee would focus on global philanthropy and exploring a shared services model with the immediate next step to articulate a clear value proposition for potential partners.
In the first half of 2019 we launched the new UN Advocacy Group consisting of 12 young people from 11 countries, which represented our movement strongly at the United Nations ECOSOC Youth Forum in April. The UN Advocacy Group has delivered a high-level positioning statement on social inclusion to the UN bringing the voice of young people and the issues they care about most to the forefront.
YMCAs in roughly 40 countries participated in World Challenge this year inviting people in their localities to volunteer 175 minutes to better the communities they live in. The majority of YMCAs chose to focus their efforts on environmental causes cleaning up beaches and neighbourhoods while others participated in community outreach such as feeding the homeless and visiting homes of the elderly. YMCA of the USA took part for the first time with 35 states and more than 120 local YMCAs participating.
World YMCA has provided communications staff while securing a prominent selection of keynote speakers and expert panellists including the UN Youth Envoy and President of the UN General Assembly. World YMCA has also collaborated on fundraising and global outreach to ensure the success of YMCA’s flagship anniversary event.
SDG Impact Report
At February’s NGS Conference in Brisbane, World YMCA was tasked with producing a report outlining the movement’s impact on achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We are currently in the testing phase with nine national movements participating and the full survey is scheduled to go out mid-July.
As we look forward to our 200th anniversary World YMCA has invited Forum for the Future to help craft and deliver a two-day workshop at YMCA175 which will help set the agenda for the next 25 years giving us our collective North Star. In preparation, we have begun a two-month global conversation through social media and we invite you to take part on Facebook and Twitter. Look for opportunities to engage each week under #YMCA2044.
World Council 2022
YMCA-YWCA Denmark officially put forth a proposal to the Executive Committee at the March meeting in Geneva to host YMCA’s next World Council in Arhaus. After a scouting visit by World YMCA staff and ExCo members, a vote was held whereby the proposal passed by a high majority. Congratulations to YMCA-YWCA Denmark!
On 6 June I was honoured to stand side-by-side with former World YMCA Secretaries General Nick Nightingale, Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, and Bart Shaha as we attended the 175th anniversary thanksgiving service held by YMCA England & Wales in London. In that moment, I was struck with the realisation that many of the same drivers that motivated Sir George Williams to start YMCA in 1844 are still relevant today: urbanisation, social isolation, and youth employment issues.
In a few short weeks we will meet in London for our flagship anniversary event, YMCA175. There, we will get the chance to reflect on all we’ve accomplished over the past 175 years, but perhaps more importantly how much we’ve grown as a movement. With thousands of the world’s young people gathered together, we will take this as an opportunity to build toward a vision for the future and I invite you to take part in the journey.
I thank you for your continued support.
Carlos Madjri Sanvee
Secretary General – World YMCA