When Global Youth Mobilize, Recovery-Response-Refresh Happens

Global Youth Mobilization initiative team meets in Geneva to reinforce the commitment and collaboration of Big Six Youth Organisations and World Health organisation

In the second week of May, CEOs, youth representatives and project team members from Big Six youth organisations, and colleagues from World Health Organisation and UN Foundation, leading the Global Youth Mobilization initiative, convened in Geneva for the first time since the start of the project in 2020. Even though this is the first time the leadership of Big Six, Youth Board representatives, and the project team is meeting in person, the impact of this collaboration has been instrumental in the lives of thousands of youth and communities.

The week-long exercise included many key highlights: a meet and greet lunch at World YWCA; CEOs meeting first time in person; a major reception and impact showcasing event at IFRC; many collaborative dialogues and meetings with UNFPA, Geneva Graduate Institute, amongst others; and key conversations with colleagues from World Health Organisation and UN Foundation.

However, a key highlight of the event was when CEOs from Big Six organisations were joined by colleagues from WHO to further strengthen the collaboration strengthening the role of young people in leading effective recovery and response to COVID-19 and to health overall around the world. The agreement on the same led to a ground-breaking strategic partnership and collaboration in the form of Big Six Organisations individually signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the World Health Organisation. Signed by five of the six organisations, the agreement increases multilateral collaboration and ensures young people are at the heart of design and decision making.

This represents an important milestone in the successful collaboration between the Big Six, the WHO, and the Global Youth Mobilization (GYM), a movement of young people acting to address the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to build back better.

The new strategic agreements build on the Global Youth Mobilization, a successful initiative launched at the end of 2020 and supported by WHO and the UN Foundation through theCOVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The Global Youth Mobilization enables the rapid disbursement of micro-grants to tens of thousands of young people worldwide to help develop solutions to ensure their communities emerge from the pandemic stronger than before. Through the “Local Solutions”, young people are driving change and implementing solutions in response to COVID-19 by acting through community-based interventions and voluntary services. The initiative is powering change at a national level too through the engagement and activation of Big Six national organizations across the world.

Within the World YWCA, the initiative has helped support more than 12 National and Local YWCAs, reaching thousands of young women and community members through youth designed and led initiatives. Many #YWCALeaders have been leading projects under the Local solutions arm, implementing young women led and engaged initiatives on ground.

The collaboration between WHO and the Big Six Youth Organizations includes a focus on the areas of mental and physical health, health promotion, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and climate and health.

Commenting on the strategic collaboration, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said:

“WHO is proud to support the global movement to engage and empower young people as a driving force in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with the Big Six and the United Nations Foundation has provided a unique opportunity to learn from millions of young people and be guided by their enthusiasm and ideas to help communities build back better.

What the Big Six have achieved in a year through launching and implementing the Global Youth Mobilization is phenomenal and unparalleled in the youth development sector. We look forward to continuing our support through these new partnership agreements and encourage others to partner with the Big Six and invest in the health and well-being of future generations.”

Meti Gemechu, Youth Board Representative for the Global Youth Mobilization and World Young Women’s Christian Association, YWCA leader from Ethiopia said:

During the three-day visit, the Big Six shared highlights and recommendations with multinational agencies, institutions, governments, policymakers and corporations to prioritise the needs of young people from the Global Youth MobilizationPowering Change: Young People Leading the COVID-19 Response and Recoveryimpact report. You can also watch the interim report on video.

To date, the Global Youth Mobilization has already resulted in 200,000 young people actively engaged in addressing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in their local communities. They have been at the forefront of the pandemic recovery, delivering over 260 projects to date in 77 countries and supporting 800,000 community beneficiaries. 

Read more on the amazing projects led by young people in their community to respond to the impact of COVID-19.