WHO signs partnership agreement with world’s largest youth organizations

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Big Six alliance of international youth organizations have agreed on a new strategic partnership agreement that will see the organizations further develop their collaboration to engage and empower young people to take action for a healthier tomorrow.

Three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, young people everywhere face unparalleled challenges. In addition to the direct health impacts associated with the virus, young people are affected by disruptions to education; loss or lack of employment opportunities; gender-based violence, and mental health challenges.

Areas of collaboration

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 International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) will use its existing partnership to achieve this goal. The collaboration includes a focus on the areas of mental and physical health; health promotion; sexual and reproductive health and rights; and climate and health.

This represents an important milestone in the successful collaboration between the Big Six, WHO, and the Global Youth Mobilization, an 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.

Local solutions to the pandemic recovery

Through the Global Youth Mobilization Local Solutions initiative, young people are driving change and implementing solutions 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 the Big Six national organizations across the world.

To date, the Global Youth Mobilization has resulted in 200 000 young people actively engaging 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 in 77 countries, and supporting 800 000 community beneficiaries.

Promoting the health and well-being of future generations

“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,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

He added: “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.”

Anna Segall, Chair of the Global Youth Mobilization and CEO of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts 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 Organizations have shown that by listening to young people and providing them with the space and resources to act, our organizations 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,” she added.

Meti Gemechu, Youth Board Representative for the Global Youth Mobilization and World Young Women’s Christian Association said, “Through the Global Youth Mobilization, 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.”


Note to Editors

About the Big Six Youth Organizations

The Big Six Youth Organizations are an alliance of leading international youth-serving organizations: World Alliance of Young Men’s Christian Association (World YMCA), World Young Women’s Christian Association (WYWCA), World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and a leading programme for youth development, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.


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