The United Nations Volunteer (UNV) Programme and the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum) launched online on Monday October 6 the results of joint research into how volunteers and international volunteer cooperation organizations strengthen governance structures. The research documents how international volunteering contributes often alongside national and community volunteers to improve public institutions by promoting transparency, information, access and participation.
The research process comprised of a survey among Forum members, interviews, case examples drawn from published and online sources, along with literature from evaluation reports.
Benjamin Lough, the author of the research described how case studies in the report illustrate the role of international volunteers:
As case examples in the report illustrate, international volunteers add value to governance-strengthening initiatives not easily achieved through other forms of development cooperation. International volunteers fill a critical bridging role that links development actors across sectors.
Volunteer participation in governance is a two-way street, and is far easier to navigate when governments are supportive and stable.
Amanda Mukwashi, Chief of Volunteer Knowledge and Innovation at UNV responds to the research by stating the report provides timely information for the research UNV is doing for the State of the Worlds Volunteerism Report on the theme of Volunteerism and Governance due for release in 2015. It also provides more evidence for why volunteering for development must be taken seriously in the post 2015 context.
Cliff Allum, Chairperson of the Forum Research Working Group added: This research represents the successful collaboration between UNV and Forum arising from participation on the Forum Research Working Group and demonstrates the excellent outcomes in terms of robust, timely and relevant research that can emerge from this type of collaboration.
Volunteers involvement at multiple levels fill a critical bridging role that links development actors across sectors. International volunteer cooperation organisations (IVCO) play an important bridging role as well. Examples found that volunteers efforts to strengthen governance from below and above is a critical combinationescalating citizen engagement and collective action as well as building capacity and structural changes in higher governance institutions.
Lenore Matthew, another of the research authors described:
From working alongside community members to operating within national institutions, international volunteers are affecting good governance in a variety of ways. What is central to international volunteers contribution across all levels of action is the importance of relationship building.
The research will be presented at the IVCO conference October 2014, in Lima, Peru.