Youth delegates meet in Hong Kong to strategise for global youth development
(20 July 2010, Hong Kong) The 17th World Council of YMCAs kick-started yesterday at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre with an opening ceremony attended by Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China, Donald Tsang, as well as almost 1 200 YMCA delegates from 85 countries.
The worldwide YMCA movement is gathering in Hong Kong this week to discuss and map out its future for the next four years, with respect to its role in social development and in addressing global issues ranging from poverty and hunger, youth advocacy and gender equity to climate change and environmental protection.
“With a high level of awareness and compassion for global issues, young people are in the best position to become leaders of global citizens,” said Dr. Shaha, Secretary General of the World Alliance of YMCAs. “I encourage all young people now gathering in Hong Kong for the 17th World Council of YMCAs and YMCA International Youth Forum to gain a better understanding of poverty and its links to hunger, HIV/AIDS, climate change and other social issues through various activities and workshops, and be inspired to take action for a more just and sustainable world.”
Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR, Mr. Tsang welcomed those gathered. "We are delighted that so many young people from around the world together with renowned international leaders are in Hong Kong for this World Council meeting," said Mr. Tsang. "It is a great opportunity for Hong Kong people to learn more about the YMCA and its considerable contributions to the international community. It is also a chance for you to get to know and enjoy our city and see how we can contribute to promoting "Global Citizenship for All".
The keynote speaker for the day was Mr. Amir Dossal, Executive Director of the UN Office for Partnerships.
According to Mr. Dossal, youth led agencies are crucial in working towards the goals set out by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) especially during an era of high technological development, "We need to redouble our collective efforts to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals become a reality. This requires commitments by governments to enact appropriate policies and projects. However, governments cannot do it on their own. It is the indispensable work of organizations like the YMCA that truly make the MDGs possible. Especially in the digital age, youth movements are among the most dynamic actors in creating positive change."
Cristina Miranda, Chair of World Alliance of YMCAs Youth Committee commented that key issues that the YMCA youth are going to focus on are poverty, education, gender and sustainable environment. “To address these issues, the youth of the YMCA are going to focus on youth leadership development and training as an imperative for empowering communities in which we work.”
Also speaking at the ceremony were Mr. Martin Meiβner, President of the World Alliance of YMCAs and Mr. Yau Chung-wan, Chair of the Host Steering Committee of 17th World Council of YMCAs.
Throughout the week, participating youth representatives will convene and discuss issues related to the theme of “Striving for a Global Citizenship for All”, ranging from intergenerational barriers and social media to climate change and disaster relief.
World Alliance of YMCAs
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World Council: Every four years YMCAs around the world from 125 countries gather together to convene the World Council, the highest policy-making body of the YMCA movement as well as its most representative expression. Since the 15th World Council in 2002 youth pre-Council events provide young people the opportunity for leadership development and training, exchange and fellowship. This is the 17th World Council.
The World Alliance of YMCAs is a global ecumenical, volunteer-led movement that works for social justice and peace, with a particular emphasis on youth. As a Christian-based organisation, we work with communities irrespective of religion, race, gender or cultural background, to ensure a more just social order and youth empowerment for a better future. Formed in 1844, and active in 125 countries with 45 million members, the YMCA is one of the largest and oldest youth movements in the world. www.ymca.int