Toily Kurbanov, UNV Deputy Executive Coordinator, moderated the session and opened the event with a brief explanation of the importance of the SWVR 2018 and the scale of volunteerism in the region. According to the report findings, in Russia and CIS alone, there is the full-time equivalent of 5.3 million volunteers.That means if everyone volunteered 1 hour per week, then more than 200 million people are actively involved in volunteering in the region.
Vinay Saldanha, UNAIDS, and Toily Kurbanov, UNV, at the SWVR 2018 launch in Moscow, Russia. UNV, 2018
Lev Yakobson, First Vice-Rector of the Higher School of Economics and longstanding expert on research on volunteering, and Marya Hristova, Youth Project Coordinator at the Bulgarian Red Cross, continued the discussion by sharing their insights on trends and status of volunteering, giving the audience the ‘big picture’ on what individual volunteers’ efforts bring to the table in terms of domestic and international development, as well as what impacts on the ground voluntary work makes.
Diana Djalalova, Head of Projects and Programmes Department of the AVC, presented exciting developments in volunteering in Russia and CIS countries and shared how partnership with governments and other partners in the region can ensure strategic support to volunteering, while Vinay Saldanha, UNAIDS Director of the Regional Support Team for Europe and Central Asia, shared what volunteering concretely brings to the work of UNAIDS and other UN agencies in the region and how working with different types of volunteers, including vulnerable groups of population, helps the organizations to achieve its objectives.
UN Volunteers Yulia Gershinkova, serving with UNHCR in Moscow, and Kilino Stojkov, supporting young Roma community members in Serbia, joined the event as well and shared their volunteer experiences empowering communities in their countries.
Speakers of the SWVR 2018 launch in Moscow, Russia, during the discussion. UNV, 2018
The SWVR 2018 launch in Moscow was attended by 300 participants and opened to participants outside the room: over 2,000 people followed the event via Facebook Live translation, as well as over 400 people took part in the online survey on volunteerism in Europe and Central Asia during the event. The session reinforced the potential of volunteering to strengthen community resilience in Europe and Central Asia and boost efforts towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as explored the ways volunteerism can be supported further by various actors in the region.
Volunteerism is universal and a common foundation for progress in wealth and poverty, for young and old, in times of crisis and of opportunity. It brings these people together, enabling collective action. It broadens choices. It provides a building block for groups to partner with others. It enables each of us here today, regardless of our jobs, our position, our nationalities, to work together to shape the communities that we want. And with the right support and investment, volunteerism can go even further, -- concluded Toily Kurbanov.
The event was an integral part of the International Volunteer Forum, dedicated to the Year of Volunteer in Russia and International Volunteer Day, which is celebrated annually on 5th December.