Message from Forum at the UN Special Session on 5th December 2011, to commemorate The International Year of the Volunteer + 10 and launch of the first State of the Volunteer Report

The International Forum on Development Service (known as ‘Forum’) would like to take this opportunity to congratulate civil society bodies, decision makers and individual volunteers all over the world for your fabulous achievements and work throughout the year. We would also like to acknowledge this momentous IYV+10 event here at the UN. It has been a collective effort, led by UNV, to have volunteering recognised as a vital way of achieving positive and sustainable development outcomes.

Forum as a global body for international volunteering and cooperation organsiations brings together likeminded agencies, working independently, but sharing a commonality in the values of respect, reciprocity, trust and mutual responsibility in our work with host communities.

Forum believes that volunteering and international cooperation makes a unique contribution to development effectiveness. Forum’s Charter is a timeless document created by members themselves, and outlines the guiding values and principles that Forum members aspire to. Among other things, our Charter states that:

“International volunteering, when based on human to human relationships and mutual exchange (the sharing of oneself, reciprocal learning, an exchange of skills, ideas and the ability to be humble) can be a catalyst for practical achievement in tackling shared development challenges. Thus, contributing in practical ways to the creation of a fairer, more caring and socially just world”.

We were very encouraged to hear the Korean Prime Minister state at the High Level Forum in Busan in November this year that “citizen’s engagement is a key component of aid effectiveness”. It demonstrates that our message is being heard and we should acknowledge that IYV+10 has enabled us to collectively advocate for this recognition.

However, we must not stop here, there is still a long road ahead. We need to build on this momentum.

In the political arena, Forum believes that we can continue to engage stakeholders and policy makers in volunteer development and in valuing volunteering, strengthening legal frameworks and enabling the infrastructure for volunteering.

Some of this has to happen at national level, but it is especially when it comes to international and intra-governmental lobby, advocacy and frameworks that we have much to gain from strengthened alliances at a global level.

Going forward, looking beyond IYV+10, we need to; continue to stay connected; share practices; celebrate diversity; promote inclusiveness; share knowledge; have critical debates; influence external stakeholders; and to learn from and support each other within the volunteering community.

In this way, we who value volunteering – be it as practitioners, as decision makers, researchers, NGOs, private or public bodies, can stay ahead and spearhead our own strategic development. By continuing to celebrate and document the significance of volunteering and civil society inclusion, we will be ensuring a forceful IVY+20 – and a decade ahead full of sharing and new achievements.

Finally, from Forum and all our members around the globe who have been or are celebrating across the time zones – we would like to wish you all a wonderful International Volunteer Day. Our charter states that Forum will actively participate in national and international opportunities such as International Volunteer Day celebrated on 5th December, that provide opportunities to advocate for the contribution that volunteers make to peace and development. We remain committed to this goal also in the years to come.