World YMCA submits statement to the United Nations

Date: 26 June 2019

As part of our efforts to better represent the voice of young people at the United Nations, World YMCA has issued an official statement for the ECOSOC High-Level Segment 2019. As a global movement serving young people in urban and rural communities all over the world, YMCA is connected to the needs and challenges young people face every day. This creates both a responsibility and a duty for YMCA to work towards making those voices better heard.

With a strong message of inclusion and equal treatment of young people, World YMCA will also attend the ECOSOC High-Level Segment and High-Level Political Forum in New York City from July 9-18.

World YMCA’s statement to the ECOSOC High-Level Segment 2019

World YMCA is a global youth organisation active in 120 countries with a reach of over 58 million young people across the world. For 175 years we have been supporting and empowering young people in building more resilient, inclusive and sustainable communities.

Active in 12,000 communities worldwide, YMCA is working with young people every day giving us unprecedented knowledge of the challenges they face, as well as the potential solutions. Our world is changing faster than our capacity to adapt to it. But while some people have a good starting point to thrive, many do not. Millions live in a world of poverty, inequality, natural disasters, violence and persecution.

We are increasingly concerned about the level of exclusion and hate speech towards minorities, religious groups, refugees and immigrants, which lead to millions feeling less secure and having an uncertain future. As we have just recently seen in Sri Lanka and Christchurch, hate speech and lack of common acceptance and understanding can also lead to extreme violence and radicalisation.

We believe everyone should feel safe no matter where they worship, who they love, how they look or where they come from. Our world becomes more peaceful and just when we build bridges between people, faiths, cultures, and we solve our differences through peaceful dialogue and reconciliation.

Social exclusion is very often linked to economic exclusion and increased inequalities. In a world where automation puts millions of jobs at risk, we cannot afford to allow inequality to keep rising. The “Future of Work” may mean more jobs for highly-skilled people, but it may also mean fewer opportunities for those who did not have access to education and to the job market. We run the risk of having millions of young people becoming part of a “class of the useless”, while only a few will have increased access to resources, technology and the social services of the future. We must not allow that to happen. In order to mitigate this, we need to invest more in social safety nets and lifelong education, in civic engagement and financial literacy programmes, in order to build the fundamental skills for understanding today’s increasingly complex world.

Climate change is also quickly becoming a new factor of exclusion. The world should now decide together with young people how we will take care of the planet which they will inherit. As millions of young people around the world marched this year to ask for action on climate change, the world needs to be bold in listening to those voices. We need to treat young people as an equal stakeholder and not only listen, but also ensure they have sufficient rights to influence decision-making processes.

We urge Member States and Civil Society to work together more in the spirit of SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals to advance a global agenda of social inclusion, tolerance and peaceful co-existence and to intensify their efforts towards creating a society where everyone can feel safe, empowered and included.