Posted by: thebluemusicblog | January 30, 2018



Romulo and I went to Davos together and I could not resist this photo opportunity in the main street of Davos! This blogpost takes us from Litomysl and the Strategy Summit to Monaco and the conference with Sports and Peace to Davos where we presented the Global Youth Poll. I shall take you on a tour of some very interesting events in some very exotic locations with some good partners of YMCA.


The autumn moon is shining over a church in advent mood, preparing us for the great message of Christmas again – a huge light in a dark world!


A big group of global YMCA leaders, most of them working in local YMCAs, came together to evaluate the Our Way Strategy and to plan for the next action steps together. These conferences are always extremely inspiring and motivating, and I always come back from them with loads of energy and smiling motivation.


Look at those concentrated faces! This year we spent more time together in plenary and organised ourselves as a huge think-tank for the Global YMCA. What have we done together? What did we achieve the last years? Which mountains did we climb together?


Serious faces are thinking and considering: Where are we going? What will happen over the next months? Are we in agreement when we analyse where we are today and where we should aim to go tomorrow? It was an amazing agreement in the room, if we were together in smaller groups or in the full plenary.


Two staff members, Andrew and Jose sharing dynamic smiles and good energy! The beautiful YMCA Europe Training Centre in Litomysl was a great context for this Strategy Summit. So inspired were we that the whole group unanimously demanded a new meeting next autumn, in the autumn of 2018, after the next World Council. I promised that we will hold a meeting in 2018 as well, happy that people were motivated to continue to meet!


Do you see the Eiffel Tower in the background? Ingunn and I went for a private visit to Paris in early December, a city we both loves dearly. In the middle of hectic travel it is necessary to rest and recharge batteries. No better place to recharge batteries than in Centre Pompidou , Louis Vuitton Museum of Modern Art or Louvre!


Then I found myself in Monte Carlo, Monaco! It was the annual conference of Sports and Peace, a Monaco based organisation with famous sports stars, political and cultural leaders and all of this under leadership of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. The World YMCA was nominated for the award as NGO of the Year – we were one of three finalists.


Above you can see kick boxing taking place, very symbolically performed by athletes from Ukraine and Russia. Amazingly both the male and the female matches all ended with a draw 🙂 The competition of the NGO of the Year was between us an a German organisation running football for peace and a small organisation run by young Muslim girls on the Horn of Africa, based in Kenya, fighting for peace with football. Their slogan was “Shoot goals, not guns!” I was really taken by this Muslim organisation and the great work they were doing, often with risk for their own lives, fighting against terrorism and violence. I admired them, and when they were declared as winners, I congratulated them heartily. They deserved it and they needed it and I was happy for them!


Didier Drogba, Chelsea F.C. and Ivory Coast in the middle of famous leaders. To the right Joel Bouzou, President and Founder of Peace and Sport, and to the left Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, Bangladesh.


It was a peaceful weekend just before Christmas and Monte Carlo showed itself from its most tranquil and harmonic side. No roaring race cars in Formula One racing around the hair pin bends of Monte Carlo, no screaming winners outside the Casino, just very calm and peaceful and a very interesting conference of Sports and Peace.


H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco was present at the conference and gave an inspiring speech at the gala dinner in the Monaco Bay Hotel. It was a conference built on all the values held high by the YMCA for 174 years. I so much could identify with the goals and values of this organisation. It is a good place for the YMCA to be at, and I can imagine a further and wider collaboration between our movements.


I saw the Casino of Monte Carlo from the outside only, it is cheaper this way 🙂


I was giving a speech at the round table at the conference, and I was introduced by the facilitator in the following way: “Johan, as we all know you are the largest and the oldest…” and at that moment the crowd started to laugh hilariously! I felt really large and old, before she added ….”youth movement in the world!” After my remarks a number of other organisations came to talk and wanted to collaborate with the YMCA. We have a good profile in the world of sports, and our image is coming up generally. It is a good feeling to observe that the Giant has woken up and is moving around!


Goodbye to Monte Carlo with the typical yachts in the harbour – playground for rich kids!


From summer temperatures in Monaco to winter landscapes in Davos!


As the train was stumbling uphills from Bad Ragaz to Davos, the sun was finally trying to come through.


And when it came through, the fabulous landscape was revealed in brilliant sunshine and blue skies. The World Economic Forum is really located in exotic surroundings! Beautiful nature, high mountains and hundreds of armed Police people, all with machine guns and automatic weapons. Streets were closed and you had to show a badge to enter the city at all. Not my favourite atmosphere, I must admit!


More than 3000 rich and famous people, or people trying to become rich and famous, stumbled around in the icy and very slippery streets of Davos. I have never seen so many well dressed, elegant people in completely weird footwear!


The SDG Lab, the Laboratory of Sustainable Development Goals, met in  a hall in Hotel Hilton, just in front of the main entrance to the WEF congress hall, and we had good discussions on migration and integration, on poverty and development, about clean water and air and not the least about young people and their future!


Some of my friends and partners in the SDG Lab in a break after we presented the Global Youth Poll, where YMCA is a key partner. One of the outcomes of the presentation in Davos is that a couple of us were invited to come to Berlin next month to meet with representatives from the German Government to discuss with them and representatives from Africa Union a collaboration around the Global Youth Poll. So we hope for a break through in the negotiations for funding for the poll. I shall keep you all informed!


To the left above you can see Roland Schatz, the founder of Media Tenor and the leader of the SDG Lab together with Professor Dr James D. Bindenagel, an American diplomat and professor. He used to be the leader of the Holocaust negotiations around the so called “Jewish Gold”, a rather honourable position, and he is now the first Henry-Kissinger Professor at the University of Bonn and is founding Director of the Centre for International Security and Governance. A very interesting conversation partner!

And the last photo from the presentation of the youth poll. You can see Thomas Root to the right, Tom has a background in Hollywood, but is now leader of HopSport, a network of children around the world and a new partner for us in the YMCA. In the middle is Michelle Schatz, presenting kids’ perspective on the future, and humbly yours to the left.

Today is the second last day of the Early Bird price for registration for the World Council in Chiang Mai, and in this second we are passing 1000 registrations and new registrations are floating in every minute! Wow! It is still only January and I am a happy man! See you all in Chiang Mai July 8-14!


  1. Johan, thanks as always for your very informative and interesting Blue Music blog post! I will not be able to attend the World Council meeting in Thailand, but look forward to reading and sharing the reports! Please give my warmest greetings to our YMCA colleagues from around the world! Yours truly, Eileen Murray; member of WFYR Latin America network!

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