Travel the YMCA Way - GATN campaign at the YLSS

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Last Updated (Wednesday, 18 November 2020 15:54)

The Youth-Led Solution Summit is an initiative of the World YMCA, in collaboration with YMCA of the USA and the YMCA of San Francisco, the United Nations, academia and external partners to empower young people and drive social innovation to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The vison of the Summits is to amplify youth solutions that positively impact local and global sustainability, the development of just and equitable communities, and the well-being of all people.

The first in the series of Summits, held virtually from 12-23 October 2020, focused on Climate Action. More than 700 young leaders between the ages of 15-35 from over 30 countries in six continents joined this event via online workshops, keynotes, interactive virtual engagement and solutions showcase event throughout the two weeks, and commitment to advance the environmental action to reduce climate change. Young people from APAY provided two workshops in YLSS, one is Carbon Footprint Calculation, and the other one is GATN (Global Alternative Tourism Network).

A lot of the YMCA youth empowerment programs involve travel, e.g. workshops, youth exchange, conferences, workcamps, etc. However, traveling by air has very high carbon footprint, making up 70% of the total carbon footprint of each trip. We need to mitigate for our carbon footprint, through our behavior and activities that we engage in at the destination. The YLSS workshop was a good opportunity for us to promote the mission of GATN to teach our young people to travel responsibly and sustainably. “Traveling the YMCA way”… that should be our new travel lifestyle, even into our daily life.

In GATN workshop, Taichung YMCA showcased how their young people traveled responsibly and sustainably. Traveling Taichung YMCA's way is through the International Service Trips and over 800 young people from Taiwan join this program every year. It's a life changing experience for these young people and they will remember it for the rest of their lives. They will be traveling responsibly and sustainably for the rest of their lives, including their consumption habits, their respect and actions to protect the environment.

The proposal from the Taichung Solutions team to combat climate change is to change the whole paradigm of travel and tourism. Traveling the YMCA way is to live a responsible and sustainable lifestyle.

Each year about 10,000 to 20,000 from the global YMCA are traveling related to YMCA programs and meetings, nationally, regionally and internationally. That why we’d like to raise the awareness to the global community, if we need to travel, then let us travel the YMCA way, responsibly and sustainably. Here are some of the conclusions from the solution team:

1. We should redefine travel and tourism.

GATN, is a new way for us to re-think travel and tourism. Travel should not be just pleasure and consumption. It should promote resource sharing, support and empower the local communities. It should be friendly to the environment, respectful to culture and nature.

2. YMCA can be the leader of this new tourism trend.

YMCA has the 2 strength that no other organization can match, the biggest global network and closest relationship with local community. We can use our strength to design and promote a travel lifestyle that is responsible and sustainable… “Traveling the YMCA way”. We should use YMCA’s global network to make an impact.

3. Our intended impact:

  • popularize responsible tourism mindset
  • assisting global-partnership in YMCA network
  • assisting local & communities’ development
  • empowerment of youth
  • education for people to take climate action

If you consider yourself a responsible and sustainable traveler, join us, Traveling the YMCA way and living a more responsible and sustainable life.

↑  Solution Team members of Responsible Tourism. (Taiwan)

(Watch the workshop on YouTube: ;

~ Jeannie Chen, Program Director of Taichung YMCA and 
Member of YLSS Global Planning Committee