05 December 2002
Each year China celebrates International Volunteer Day (IVD) by organizing an event that promotes volunteerism and recognizes the contributions volunteers made to development. This year, in cooperation with Beijing International Volunteers Association (BIVA), the China Young Volunteer’s Association (CYVA) and the newly established Research Centre on Volunteering and Social Welfare (RCVW), United Nations Volunteer (UNV) organized a forum focused on "Voluntary Service and Employment", addressing issues such as unemployment, the elderly, community service and development.
Held at the Beijing University, the organizing committee invited a number of scholars and community activists to speak on various issues relating to volunteerism. The forum encouraged dialogue between the speakers and participants and gave individuals the opportunity to contribute to the discussion. There were over 100 participants from civil society organizations to university students, including members from Red Cross of Beijing, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, New Path Foundation, Hope Foundation, and Korea International Cooperation Agency.
The speakers' contributions to the forum generated much discussion regarding the challenges and responsibilities of volunteerism. The opening remarks were delivered by Mr. Dong Hong, the Assistant-Director General of China International Centre for Economic and Technical
Exchanges (CICETE), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) counterpart in China and Mr. Zhang Xuecheng, Assistant-Director General of CYVA. Both stressed the importance of volunteerism and recognized the efforts of volunteers and their contributions to society.
The forum addressed a range of topics, from social challenges to volunteerism to legal responsibilities of volunteer organizations. Mr. Ding Yuanzhu, Director of the Research Center for Volunteering and Social Welfare, addressed issues of unemployment in China and recognized the contributions volunteerism has made to such areas of social development. His talk focused on some of the factors to rising unemployment rates, and raised issues relating to rural-urban migration, the elderly population, laid-off workers, and social insurance. Mr. Wang Yanbin, Project Manager of the New Path Foundation, raised the issues of safety and challenges for volunteers, and focused on the legal framework for sponsoring organizations.
Since the UN General Assembly passed the resolution on volunteerism in 2001, China has been not only a co-sponsor of the resolution but has been an active supporter of voluntary services. Reflected not only in the various volunteer agencies that continues to provide services and strengthen communities, but also in the role the Government and respective departments have taken in organizing events that promote volunteerism. UNV has continuously been present through this time, and continues to expand its own programmes and activities.