YMCA puts its mark on the United Nations

World YMCA attended the eighth edition of the ECOSOC Youth Forum at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York City on 8-9 April. We had an amazing delegation of 20 leaders from national movements across the globe accompanied by three staff members and our Secretary General Carlos Madjri Sanvee. All parties actively engaged and representing the voices of young people globally.

The Youth Forum also marked the first activity of the UN Advocacy Group, which kickstarted its training with a planning meeting in the days leading up to the event hosted by Frost Valley YMCA. The team took full advantage of the training, departing for the UN with clear objectives and concrete recommendations to be delivered at the forum.

Our delegation made its presence felt right from the start thanks to a powerful message from Carlos whereby he challenged the forum to collaborate more radically to combat the issues facing the world’s young people today. This set the tone for our delegation, empowering them to speak up during the interactive breakout sessions. Nearly the entire delegation could be seen raising their hands and passionately sharing about YMCA’s involvement in relation to the session’s topics. In each session YMCA was clearly visible, present, and most importantly, heard at all levels.

YMCA would discuss future collaboration with a number of key UN organisations during the forum including the UN Youth Envoy, UN Foundation, UN Global Compact, UN Office of Participants, and UN Office of Intergovernmental Support and Coordination for Sustainable Development. Each office welcomed YMCA with open arms and was eager to strengthen our long-standing relationship with the United Nations, partnering to empower youth voices on key strategic priorities including climate justice, economic opportunities, civic engagement and mental health issues.

World YMCA also had the opportunity to meet with Global Citizen about partnering to elevate young voices around our strategic themes and potentially developing advocacy training. We would also reconnect with the Harlem Globetrotters about creating an operational framework to leverage our partnership in advancing peace and reconciliation through the game of basketball.

While the fellow participants and organisations were hearing more about YMCA and what we stand for, our delegates were having an immense learning experience of their own. By attending the Youth Forum, our young leaders had the opportunity to engage with colleagues from around the world along with their national ministers and UN Youth Delegates. Additionally, they learned more about the Sustainable Development Goals and how they can be met, the unique challenges of their regions, and how the UN system works. For many, this was the highlight of their careers thus far.

The United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) may seem remote and far away from the real challenges we face in our daily lives, but in reality, we as a movement are already working to accomplish nearly all of the 17 global goals. They have become our goals as a global community. World YMCA calls upon our friends around the world to share more about how their YMCA is working to achieve the #GlobalGoals.

Send in your stories to: palmer@ymca.int or reach us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter, #WorldYMCA.

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*World YMCA would like to give special thanks to YMCA of Greater New York, Vanderbilt YMCA and Frost Valley YMCA for their tremendous support in making our UN engagements a considerable success.