„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“

YMCA Europe Roots for Peace

The YMCA has historically assumed the role of working in and with conflicts as central to its service delivery.

Committed to these historical roots and legacy, YMCA Europe has constantly initiated and implemented one-go projects and long-term programmes in the conflict transformation field.


Peace and Justice continuously remain a key priority within the YMCA Europe Strategy.

The YMCA Europe Roots for Peace long-term and large-scale initiative, successfully ongoing since 2007 remains a best practice in this line, continuing to build capacities and organisational culture for peace within its network and constituency and for the communities they serve.

The "Roots" project has so far been implemented in three phases:

The original aim of the project was to strengthen and extend the YMCA in the region of South Caucasus as a mass-membership movement standing for peace, justice and integrity of creation. Central to the way the project worked at that stage was through enhancement of camping programme as a shared activity that connects young people across socio-political and cultural dividers.

“The Roots for Reconciliation project had been very successful in devising a process that creates a safe space for relationship-building based on Do No Harm principles. They have done this on the basis of what can be characterised as a deep love for their fellow young men and women. It is this ability to engender love across cultural and political dividers that represents the main achievement of the project.” YMCA Europe Roots for Reconciliation Project Report of External Assessment: Bruce Britton, 2009.

Starting with the second phase of the project its overall aim shifted further towards the external impact, which is empowering youth activism towards prevention and peaceful transformation of conflicts in Europe, the region of South Caucasus especially considered.

“The project has been highly relevant to the values, mission, and strategic priorities of YMCA Europe, as well as to the interests of its youth participants, particularly those coming from conflict-affected or post-conflict countries. It has provided a coherent framework for the promoting peace building and cross-border dialogue into the work of local and national YMCA organisations and across the YMCA Movement.”  YMCA Europe Roots for Reconciliation II Project Outcome Evaluation: Bill Streland,2015.

The Roots has developed human and resource mobilization capacities, effective methodology and best practice programme delivery tools that can be easily multiplied to new circumstances and dimensions. It has developed its identical safe space methodology, based on Do No Harm approach. It has elaborated number of best practice conflict transformation schemes, such as the Peace Work Institute (including Peacework Guidebook) or the Local Capacities for Peace components.

"The assessment found that the Roots for Reconciliation project met the intended objectives measured against the achievement indicators. The 'learning content' transferred in the project activities is highly relevant for the participants as well as their social environment. The project design combines 'collaborative learning' and 'collaborative action' and is thereby very effective. The project impact goes well beyond changes at the individual and personal level through learning, attitude and behaviour changes. In a large number of cases participants felt sufficiently empowered and confident to initiate their own activities. In addition, third parties have raised money or provided support in kind to contribute to project activities. This has contributed to the project efficiency." "Reflecting on Peace Practices Process", By Dr. Wolfgang Heinrich, 2019