Informal Consultations
Committee of the Whole
Thematic Committee
Parallel Events
Parallel Event

Invitation to Parallel Session
Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium,
06 June 2001
1:15 - 2:45 PM

Dear Participant,
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme has pleasure to invite you and your delegation to the Istanbul + 5 parallel session on Volunteerism and Urban Development.

The panel of speakers consists of representatives from different types of organization -grassroots groups, the NGO sector, academia, the government, the donors and the UN system. Together they will provide a vision of the theme from different perspectives.

Speakers: representatives from Slum Dwellers International; Habitat International Coalition; the programme 'Solidary Community' of the Government of Brazil; United Nations Research Institute for Social Development; United Nations Volunteers Programme; the German Ministry for Co-operation; University of Sao Paulo (list of speakers to be confirmed and finalized before Istanbul + 5).

Issues to be addressed by the panel and discussed during the session:

  • Experiences from the field highlighting innovative aspects of volunteerism in urban development
  • Ways through which the role of volunteerism in urban development can be further recognized, supported and ultimately enhanced.
  • Recommendations for governments, donors and other stakeholders. Mechanisms to enhance the contacts among the participants of the session as well as other people with an interest in volunteerism and urban development.
Provisional Agenda

Opening Remarks;
Overview of Collaborations;
Questions for Panelists;
Comments from Floor;
Closing Remarks

Focal point:
UNV, Edmundo Werna, Urban Development Specialist,

UNV's publication CARING CITIES
(Volunteerism in Urban Development and the Role of UNV) will be launched and copies will be distributed during the session.

There is a strong linkage between volunteerism and the development of human settlements. Volunteerism makes an important economic contribution to such settlements, as it is closely related to the formation of social capital. Several recent studies have pointed to a link between social capital and economic advance in many localities. In addition, volunteers complement the role of local authorities by extending outreach coverage. At the urban grassroots, survival many times depends on the work of self-help voluntary groups, which are also instrumental to the construction of local governance processes. In its turn, the preservation of the cultural heritage of the human settlements largely depends upon voluntary actions of individuals and groups - e.g. preservation within one's private property; care with the public spaces and buildings; collective efforts to restore endangered monuments and intangible assets, etc. These are attitudes which cannot be 'bought and sold' in the private market; they are fundamentally based on voluntary/free will. Volunteerism also plays a very important role in helping to address the issue of unoccupied youth and related behaviours such as drug-taking and violence, bearing in mind that such types of problem are often among the priorities of local authorities. Volunteer activities help the youth to meet new friends; learn new skills; gain in confidence, self-respect and personal satisfaction, which have positive implications for their behaviour in the cities as well as for their future prospects in life.

The above facts have led to the inclusion of a paragraph on volunteerism in the draft declaration prepared during the II PrepCom for Istanbul + 5 (HS/C/PC.2/3/Rev.1) (paragraph # 40). The strong relationship between volunteerism and human settlements has led the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme to choose urban development as one of its priorities for action. UNV also has a solid track-record of collaboration with UNCHS (Habitat). Throughout the years it has mobilized hundreds of UN Volunteers to work with UNCHS in the field. It has provided the volunteer component to many projects, therefore further demonstrating the value-added of volunteerism in activities related to human settlements.

Despite of the above evidence, volunteerism is still an underutilized asset in development. Therefore, this parallel session will be an opportunity to discuss ways to enhance the role of volunteerism in urban development, to discuss recommendations to governments, donors and other stakeholders; and also to think about ways to enhance and maintain the contacts among the participants as well as other people with an interest in the subject of the session.





2001 UNCHS