Resilient Realities Report

Resilient Realities

How youth civil society is experiencing and
responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Global State of Youth Civil Society Report

Meet the Researchers

Kim Allen

Welcome to Resilient Realities

Resilient Realities is a youth-led report, which explores how young people between the age of 18 to 30 are organising during the COVID-19 global pandemic. In this research we are driven by the key question:

How is youth civil society responding to the COVID-19 crisis?

Resilient Realities is not meant to be a comprehensive global study of youth civil society and COVID-19, instead each co-researcher sought to open a window into the stories of resistance and resilience of our regions and communities. Here we share a summary of what we have learned in this process through conversations, interviews, surveys, observation of events, creative and participatory activities, engagement in social media, and our own reflections as youth civil society members.

The pandemic offered an opportunity to take a good long look within. As we go within ourselves, within our organisations and within our societies, we question, deconstruct, dream, and, hopefully rebuild new realities.

Following the leadership of young people, engaging excluded voices and creating horizontal spaces for connection, reflection and care, are essential factors to make sure that youth civil society can survive, thrive and continue to envision and enact new realities.

We hope this research offers insights, ideas and a replicable model to support the work of youth civil society in their efforts to drive change and rebuild back up from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global Takeaways

Youth-led groups, movements and organisations have been forced to look inwards and develop new ways of working.

The COVID-19 crisis put the spotlight on all the inequalities deeply rooted in our societies. Youth CSOs have been filling the gaps left by slow or oppressive government responses.

Youth-led CSOs have been quick to respond in their communities and are building resilience from the ground up.

COVID-19 has presented youth civil society with an opportunity to advocate for a more inclusive society.

Jimena Almario

“Youth organisations, groups and movements showed an incredible capacity to reorient themselves and respond with agility and flexibility in an uncertain context that requires experimenting, risk-taking and boldness.”

JimenaYoung Researcher

In Bangladesh young people are using digital technology to stop the spread of the virus, and reach marginalised groups. I feel inspired... powerful... hopeful...

by Aurona Sarker | AUDIO

Stories of Resilience

Project Guangyuan, China

Project Guangyuan aims to lessen the digital divide in China by providing students with digital devices to support their education. The need was greater than ever during the covid-19 pandemic because of from-home learning, so the team launched a campaign to call for second hand devices to be distributed.

If it were not for the pandemic, we might not have been able to launch our project so quickly. Before, I didn’t think that I had so much power and determination to push this project forward, but the pandemic created an opportunity in which electronic devices became a necessity.
Chen Kaijun, co-founder

The Voice Inc., Papua New Guinea

The Voice Inc. is an organization focused on building youth personal and collective leadership. When the pandemic hit, the unreliable internet in PNG meant they weren’t able to just move things online.

We developed our leadership program into house kits, and had it delivered to our members. This means members who signed up for the program can now do the training in their homes. The lessons in the house kits are covered both in the workbook and audio tracks saved in a flash drive that goes out to everyone who signed up to do the program. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, our members still had access to the program.
Maliwai Sasingian, executive director

This song is a manifestó of hope and resilience amidst our complex South American contexts. It recognises our similar struggles, our love of liberty, raising our voice without fear for life, dignity and freedom. We will continue creating with hope.

‘Manifiesto’, composition by Jimena Almario, performed by La Múcura


for donors and governments


Investing in and learning from youth civil society can scale up the resilience of communities to crises.


Young people have been at the frontline of the Covid-19 response: it’s time to make room for them at the policy-making table.


Engage with new approaches to leadership, modelled by young people, as a pathway to rebuilding and renewing our societies.


Work with us, young people, to build partnerships across regions, movements and issues.


Ensure that recovery from the pandemic works for all “segments of society”: taking a radical approach to leaving no-one behind.


Ting Zhang

Informal networks are key to youth-led COVID-19 response in China

by Ting Zhang

Daniel Calarco

There can be no new realities in Rio’s favelas without youth organisations taking centre stage

by Daniel Calarco

Regional Spotlight Briefs

Latin America

Contemplating New Realities – Daniel and Jimena explore the new realities being created by young people, youth organisations, groups and movements today, and the challenges that many are facing

North America

Realising Our Interconnectedness – Emilia and Bonnie uncover how youth actors, communities and youth-led organisations have connected, supported and shared with each other during Covid-19


What Happened to Young People’s Personal and Professional Development During the Pandemic? Lauryn and Mirre explore young people’s dreams, aspirations, study choices and professional ambitions


Re-architecting Societies, from the Grassroots Up – Aurona and Ting look at how young people are organising in Bangladesh and China to create new initiatives to respond to the pandemic


Grassroots Resilience – Eric and Rim explore what youth organisations and groups have been doing to support communities to be resilient at the grassroots level


The ‘Access Revolution’ – Kim and Lia look at how youth civil society, unable to engage in face-to-face activities, are managing to support other young people during the lockdown

This youth-led research took a unique approach in terms of methodology:

“Stepping into conversations with experiences of deep change, confusion, isolation, and mental health challenges requires care. It cannot be extractive: we cannot take information from young people so as to provide them to institutions that could support them. There is something patronizing, disempowering in that. The process needs to be just as useful as the outcome.

The intention was to create a community of support, socialise ideas, make connections. If there is no one world, one reality, how can we come together to research our own realities, expand our perception, inspire action?”

– Gioel Gioacchino, Recrear International

Restless Development supports the journey of a young person to become a leader and solve problems in their communities.

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Recrear is a community interested in social transformation from a place of emotional grounding, creativity, co-creation, and care.

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The Development Alternative is a group of organisations trying to change what it means to do development by shifting power to communities and young people.

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This research project is funded with UK aid from the UK government.