Youth volunteerism is an innovative way for boosting South-South Development at the global level. This is the message brought by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme to participants in this year's Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 28 October to 1st November 2013.
It is the first time that the annual Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo is held in the South. The theme of this year's event hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is, Building Inclusive Green Economies: South-South Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication.
Together with partners such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNEP, UN-Habitat, the African Union, and the East African Community (EAC), the UNV programme's delegation is deepening discussions about innovative ways to facilitate South-South cooperation through youth volunteerism, as an efficient and adequate response to challenges and threats to development and peace in the world.
When the Secretary-General called on the UNV programme to create a youth volunteer programme in his Five-Year Action Agenda, UNV interpreted this in the broadest sense, pledging not only to engage young people as volunteers, but to facilitate the engagement of youth in global peace and sustainable human development through volunteerism, bringing the voice of youth into the development discourse.
In today's speech to the audience of the Youth for South-South Development (Y4SSD) forum, Kevin Gilroy, Chief of UNV Peace and Development Division, stated: "We want to work with partners, including youth-led organizations, NGOs and governments in the Global South." "To do this, we will support the inclusion of youth volunteerism in UN development frameworks, and work with governments and civil society partners to strengthen national and regional youth volunteer programmes," he added.
Gilroy recalled the launch of the UNV Youth Volunteering Strategy 2014-2017 in New York in last September, and announced that UNV has identified youth as one of the key areas of focus of the new UNV Strategic Framework 2014-2017, which will be launched this year. "We are seeking strong partnerships with UN entities to engage UN Youth Volunteers in their peace and development programming. UN Youth volunteers will help tackle some of the leading issues facing the world today including primary health care, HIV/AIDS, disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, education, peace-building and other development areas."
Volunteering is one of the best ways to help young people to realize their full social, economic and human potential towards global development and peace. It helps to empower youth to lead, while providing them with valuable job and life skills. This better prepares young people for the workforce and increases their employability.
Currently, 40 volunteers on site and online, are actively supporting the event by providing logistic support and editorial services; by reporting on the proceedings of meetings; by writing summaries of round-table discussions; and by disseminating information using social media tools.
The involvement of youth volunteers in supporting the event, with over 1,200 participants, is a concrete example of the value of youth volunteerism and the impact of youth volunteers in addressing the challenge of the whole logistics required for the Expo. UNV has played a crucial role in mobilizing online volunteers in preparation of the annual Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo in Nairobi. Prior to the event, on 17 October 2013, a volunteer opportunity was publicized on the UNV Online Volunteering service's web site. Within only 10 days, UNV had mobilized more than 50 candidates, 25 being selected as online volunteers in support to the GSSD Expo.
To follow Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo on Twitter, please visit: https://twitter.com/southsouthexpo or #GSSD13.