World's largest youth organizations agree new strategic collaboration with the WHO to build a healthier, more equal and youth-led future

Philippine Red Cross youth volunteers lead a group of children in Santo Domingo in fun and dancing activities to help them stay safe from COVID-19 and cope with the effects of recent typhoons.

Philippine Red Cross youth volunteers lead a group of children in Santo Domingo in fun and dancing activities to help them stay safe from COVID-19 and cope with the effects of recent typhoons.

Photo: IFRC

Joint statement from World Scouting, World YMCA, World YWCA, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award.

Geneva, 13 May 2022 - Today, CEOs and youth leaders from the Big 6 Youth Organizations met with leaders from the World Health Organization (WHO) to discuss the role of young people in leading COVID-19 response and recovery efforts and agree on a ground-breaking strategic partnership and collaboration of engaging young people in future health-related crises.

The partnership agreements signed by five of the Big six are designed to increase multilateral collaboration and put young people at the heart of decision making, whilst the IFRC will use its existing partnership to achieve this goal. This represents an important milestone in the successful collaboration between the Big 6, the WHO, and the Global Youth Mobilization (GYM), a movement of young people taking action to address the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to build back better.

Young people today face an unparalleled time of challenge. In addition to the direct health impacts exacerbated by the pandemic, young people continue to be disproportionately affected by disruptions to education, loss or lack of employment opportunities, domestic and gender-based violence, and mental health challenges.

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 the COVID-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 taking action through community-based interventions and voluntary services. The initiative is powering change at a national level too through the engagement and activation of Big 6national organizations across the world.

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.

Representatives from the big 6 youth organizations meet at the WHO in Geneva in May 2022 to agree a new strategic collaboration

Representatives from the big 6 youth organizations meet at the WHO in Geneva in May 2022 to agree a new strategic collaboration

Photo: World Scouting

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 6 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 6 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 6 and invest in the health and well-being of future generations.”

Anna Segall, CEO of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Chair of the Global Youth Mobilization, said:

“We believe in young people’s agency and know that with the right support and opportunity they can imagine and lead the solutions to the global challenges we face today.

In coming together through the Global Youth Mobilization, the Big Six Youth Organisations have shown that by listening to young people and providing them with the space and resources to act, our organisations and young people can make a huge collective impact.

We look forward to continuing this vital work through our new strategic collaboration with the World Health Organization. By supporting young people to improve their mental and physical health, sexual and reproductive health and rights and tackle the impact of climate change we can work together to create a better, fairer future for all.”

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

"Through the Global Youth Mobilisation, we have proved that we are not the problem but in fact the solution to not just building back from the pandemic but building back better. With innovation, relentless energy and dedication to bettering our communities young people have led the response and recovery efforts. The Global Youth Mobilization is a critical actor in bringing together everyone for a future we want to be a part of."

During the three-day visit the Big 6 shared highlights and recommendations with multinational agencies, institutions, governments, policymakers and corporations to prioritise the needs of young people from the Global Youth Mobilization "Powering Change: Young People Leading the COVID-19 Response and Recovery” impact report.

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.

For more information contact:

Sam Williams, Global Youth Mobilization, Project Co-Lead [email protected]

Paleni Amulungu, Global Youth Mobilization, Digital Communications, Partnerships and Advocacy Coordinator [email protected]

Amjad Saleem, IFRC Inclusion, Protection and Engagement Manager [email protected]

Click here to learn more about the IFRC's work in engaging young people around the world.