29 March 2011
The meeting in Quito, organized by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme with the financial support of the White Helmets Commission of Argentina, brings together people from across Latin America: Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Uruguay are all represented. (UNV)Quito, Ecuador:
Organizations from across Latin American civil society have agreed to work together on influencing policy and promoting the impact of volunteer work on development.
The joint recommendations and roadmap for action issued at a meeting in Quito, Ecuador, aim to position the region’s NGOs and voluntary organizations as a ‘cohesive sector’ able to “speak loud and clear with one voice” for volunteering policy reform.
Common fronts and alliances should be established to advocate for better legal frameworks to protect volunteers, said the delegates, plus negotiation forums to monitor the implementation of legislation at the national, regional and international levels.
More than 50 voluntary organizations from Latin America convened in Quito from 28-29 March 2011 in a regional consultation under the banner of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers. Organized by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, the meeting was the first in a series of consultations that over the next months will cover Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
The Quito conference also recommended that volunteer-driven development activities should be systematically recorded and compiled, while the results and impact must be measured accordingly. As information is increasingly shared between Latin America’s NGOs and civil society organizations, a joint document should be developed to asses the reach of volunteering for development in the region.
As activities under the International Year of Volunteers +10 gather pace in Latin America, continues the summary of recommendations drawn up in Quito, an emphasis is to be laid upon the role of volunteers in sustainable development, stressing the “social, economic, political and cultural value of volunteerism.”
The anniversary Year is seen in the recommendations as “opportunity to substantially change the current public perception of volunteering and volunteerism.” They further cover issues such as “volunteerism as participation” and the “empowering values of volunteerism”.
While the right of all peoples to fulfill themselves and increase their self-esteem through volunteering is recognized, the Quito recommendations do not neglect the day-to-day issues. It is important, according to the combined recommendations, that institutions, communities and volunteers take ownership of their work, and that volunteer projects are driven by practical demands and the concept of capacity building.