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Bonn UN DPI/NGO conference to focus on sustainable development and volunteerism

10 August 2011

Bonn, Germany: Sustainable development and volunteerism will be the main topics of discussion when non-governmental organizations (NGOs) meet in Bonn, Germany for the sixty-fourth annual United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI)/NGO meeting from 3 to 5 September.  The Conference, entitled “Sustainable Societies:  Responsive Citizens”, will use these twin themes to showcase the impact that volunteers and engaged citizens make on sustainable livelihoods and communities.

The DPI/NGO Conference is expected to secure renewed commitment from the NGO community on the issue of sustainable development by assessing the progress made to date, specifically around the issue of building sustainable societies through responsive citizenship.

The Conference will also give the global NGO community the opportunity to prepare a consensus statement containing their input on sustainable development and its relationship to volunteerism, as well as reflecting their views on the upcoming major United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development scheduled for 4-6 June 2012 in Brazil, known as Rio+20, and the General Assembly’s discussion in December 2011 on the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10).  In addition, with its important overarching theme on the role of volunteerism in promoting sustainability, the DPI/NGO Conference is expected to influence those talks in the Assembly.

A key partner in this year’s event is the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.  Looking forward to the Bonn meeting, UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri says, “The themes we’ll be discussing are more significant than ever.  NGOs and responsive citizens — the people — act at the heart of societies.  They are key to transforming development, since grass-roots voluntary action reaches into the long-term and is more responsive to community needs, giving it real sustainability.”  “The development debate is shifting,” she warns, and adds:  “Sustainability and human well-being are finally coming to centre stage.”

In calling for the global NGO community to seize the opportunity Bonn presents as UNV marks IYV+10, and in the run-up to Rio+20, Ms Pansieri suggests that “volunteering is a truly sustainable and people-centred approach, so let’s join together and seize the chance to move it up the international agenda through this conference.”

UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)