Under the title “Paths to Progress”, 130 participants from 31 different countries gathered in Tallinn, Estonia at YMCA Europe´s General Assembly from May 14th to the 17th.
Before the Assembly, one more YES Seminar (YMCA Europe´s youth network) with 50 participants and the 3rd Movement Strengthening Conference were also held in Tallinn.
This year´s General Assembly had two main goals: looking back to the last four years focusing on the main achievements of the present strategy across Europe, and to start our discussions for the next Strategic Plan 2016 – 2020.
The presentations, keynote speech and inputs concentrated on this two aspects with a special emphasis on the 2014 reports in the fields governance, management, programmes and finances. These reports had been sent to all delegates before the GA and space for questions and comments was given at the plenary sessions before their approval by the delegates.
Six interest groups were organized during the weekend in order to provide more detailed information and answer questions about the following items:
- World Alliance,
- Y´s Men Europe,
- Christian Orientation Group and
- Representation in Brussels.
- National General Secretaries also had their meeting in Tallinn, providing inputs for the agenda of the 4th NGS Forum (Rome, November 23-26, 2015).
The new National Contribution System for the years 2016 – 2019 was presented and approved also at the plenary as a key element in the report from our Treasurer Mike Will. President Ed Eggink provided an inspiring reflection about the present and future of the YMCA movement in Europe with key issues that affect youth and communities in our continent today.
From the European Youth Forum perspective, Marcio Barcelos also provided very concrete suggestions about the role of the social sector in today´s Europe and how a movement like the YMCA could play a key role in social transformation. Secretary General Juan Simoes Iglesias provided figures and information about the achievements over the past four years and also thoughts about challenges that we face as an European movement that seeks for higher relevance and sustainability in all levels.
Stepan Cerny, YMCA Europe´s Vice President reported about the 3rd Movement Strengthening Conference led by himself and Beate Turk before the GA started. Tinna Ros Steinsdottir, Chair of YES, shared about the YES Seminar and the election of the YES new Board. Marloes Meijer, Chair of the Christian Orientation Group, together with her team provided input about the reality of the Group and led inspiring opening thoughts and devotions during the GA together with the European Ten Sing Group.
Ian Green represented the World Alliance of YMCAs and updated the participants on different elements of the implementation of “OUR WAY Strategy” approved at the World Council last year in Colorado, USA. A renewed “Friends of YMCA Europe” campaign was launched, including a number of good reasons to support the work of our working fellowship into the next years.
As mentioned above, a crucial aspect in Tallinn was the kick off process of for the new Strategic Plan 2016- 2020. A special session which included two rounds of “table talks” allowed all participants to identify relevant aspects for our new strategy. A wide consultation process across all our member movements, working platforms and stakeholders will continue in the next nine months. Martin Winter, member of our Executive Committee and a team of facilitators led these sessions. We want to thank everyone involved in this first exercise.
Our Recording Secretary Beate Turck, combined her work at this group work with the accurate recording of all inputs and agreements that took place during the Assembly.
Our deepest gratitude to our Estonian friends. Ene Roos, Secretary General, the Board members, volunteers and all Estonian staff involved, made us feel at home in Tallinn. We enjoyed the organized visit to the historic spots in the unique city of Tallinn followed by Estonian music and charming atmosphere. A special recognition was given to Jaakko Koikkalainen after 40 years serving as NGS of YMCA Finland, a personal and professional example of commitment towards the YMCA mission.
Thank you to everyone that took part in the GA. From the planning team that worked on the programme to the members of our Executive Committee and Staff to each of the National Movements and partner organizations that joined our main annual governance event. In his final remarks, Ed Eggink thanked each of these persons and invited everyone to share the outcomes of the GA at their local and national realities, encouraging them to take an active part at the design of our next Strategic Plan.
See you next year in Spain at YMCA Europe´s General Assembly. May 5th – 8th 2016 !!!
Full photo album on high resolution available here.