Date: 01 October 2021

Youth voices for climate action


Six YMCA projects to feature in global film premiere

14,000 people – and counting – have been impacted in the past 12 months through YMCA’s Youth-Led Solutions on Climate Action. The YMCA Youth-Led Solutions Initiative has put critical resources, including seed funding, into the hands of young changemakers who are developing innovative approaches to address global issues both at home and abroad.

At COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on 1-12 November 2021, the global YMCA Movement will now showcase six stories of young leaders around the world who are taking climate action.


         On show at the IMAX: YMCA climate action in Palestine                                    … in Peru

YMCA has commissioned a series of short films that will premiere on Friday 12 November, within the iconic Glasgow Science Centre IMAX Cinema. The screenings will be part of the UK Government’s official programme in the Green Zone.

The curated short films will feature young people’s work in: installing vermicomposting and tackling electronic waste across the islands of Hawaii; addressing poor sanitisation and inorganic waste in Peru; training a new generation of eco-leaders in a cross-cultural collaboration between young people in Albay, Philippines and Michigan, USA; spurring community-led reforestation projects in the Western Balkan forests of Kosovo; creating micro-green spaces across Ramallah, Palestine; and using up-cycled waste to make curriculum-based climate art in schools in Zambia.

A panel discussion will follow the premiere, featuring young leaders and guests from around the world.

Tickets will shortly be available to the public – free of charge – at www.ukcop26.org.  Most events will also be streamed live on the COP26 YouTube channel.

“Throughout COP26, YMCA will be advocating for the diversification and mobilisation of the climate action movement to elevate the voices of young people and the marginalised, and for the investment in youth-led solutions globally”, says Kerry Reilly, the National General Secretary of YMCA Scotland, who has led the global YMCA Movement’s preparations for the Summit.  “I’m proud to say that a group of inspiring young YMCA leaders brought from around the world will be taking part as official observers within the ‘Blue Zone’ negotiations and events of the UN.”

Alongside Extreme International, YMCA is also partnering with One Young World on its programme of events at The Ferry, situated on the River Clyde, at the heart of COP26, between the Green and Blue Zones. Over the course of two weeks, One Young World will be ensuring the voices of young leaders of all backgrounds and sectors are meaningfully taken into account and heard. YMCA will lead two of these conversations: on Monday 8 November on Moral Courage: Climate Justice and Human Rights; and on Tuesday 9 November on The power of investing in youth-led solutions.



COP 26 (the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC) must see governments worldwide make clear and irreversible commitments to cutting carbon emissions, in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. That climate change would have the greatest impact on those who caused it the least and who have the least capacity to deal with it.

COP is divided into two spaces: The Blue Zone and The Green Zone. The Blue Zone is the official space where only United Nations accredited members, high-level officials, heads of states and partners can join. This is the space where the official negotiations happen. The Green Zone is the UK Government’s official side-programme of events, open to the public to meet with, hear from and experience organisations and individuals who are taking a lead on climate action.

YMCA has had consultative status with the United Nations (UN) since 1947, and more recently has brought extraordinary young leaders from around the world to interact with, and learn from the Conference of Parties.

At the landmark COP 21 in Paris, YMCA organized Camp Climate (a space for over 300 young activists to stay and connect). At COP 22 in Marrakesh we also sent a delegation of 20 youth activists and hosted a Camp Climate. Likewise at COP 23 in Bonn and COP 24 in Katowice, and despite COP 25 moving from Santiago to Madrid, we still sent a delegation.  Read more on Camp Climate and enjoy video footage (clip 1, clip 2).


The Environment – and channelling young people’s commitment to climate justice and sustainability – is one of four key impact areas of the global YMCA Movement. Guided by a 2018 position paper, YMCAs the world over take climate action. ‘A Sustainable Planet’ is equally one of the four proposed key impact areas of YMCA Vision 2030.

YMCA’s Youth Led Solutions Summit on Climate Action in October 2020 assembled over 700 participants from around the world. At the Summit, young people had the opportunity to create teams and come up with local solutions addressing the climate crisis in their own contexts. After a long process, 35 teams were selected from around the world to receive seed funding to implement these local projects.


     … in Kosovo                                                                                                                                            … in Zambia
… in USA and the Philippines                                                                                                         … in Hawaii

Live from COP26 – YMCA briefing webinar

Wednesday 10 November, 1400 GMT (UK time)

To continue to elevate the inspiring work of youth-led solutions, COP26 YMCA Ambassadors will share what has been happening on the ground, live from Glasgow, and there will be an announcement of more seed grants to initiate or scale new youth-led solutions in early 2022. Speakers will also include Bread for the World (Brot für die Welt, the development and relief agency of the Protestant Churches in Germany and an active partner in the Asia Pacific, Africa, Latin America and Middle East regions), World YMCA and the Asia Pacific Alliance of YMCAs. This event is open to YMCA’s entire global network of staff, volunteers and young leaders. The 70-minute online event should engage up to 500 young leaders from at least 50 countries.

Register here now, and you will receive a Zoom link straight afterwards.


Please contact us

If you will be at COP26, and want to talk with YMCA about partnership opportunities, or to elevate the stories of young leaders driving social change, then contact us.

COP26 Activations & Partnerships: Kerry Reilly, kerry@YMCA.scot

Communications: John Phillips, john@ymca.int (Geneva)