On the 11th of September I was at the CIVICUS World Assembly at the request of the United Nations Volunteer program to make a presentation during the “Connecting People Through Technology: Volunteering Online” program on the role of online volunteering in building the capacity of non-profit organizations and facilitating youth participation in decision making. My presentation centered on the award winning Youth Consultation on Migration and Development series that I initiated. This project led to the first youth position paper at the 2009 Global Forum on Migration and Development – thanks to the technical support that Young People We Care (YPWC) had from UN Online Volunteers.
All in all, it was a meeting worth attending. I had the opportunity of listening to various non-profit organization representatives with a passion for social justice. The bitter-sweet part of the whole event was a dinner dance with a strong youth choir among others and a late-night candlelight procession in memory of the victims of the 9/11 bombings in the United States. Visit my Facebook page to view some pictures of my participation in the Assembly.
Throughout the World Assembly there emerged this common understanding that effective development and our ability to build a just world demanded that we be sustainable (climate justice), and inclusive (democratic space). The technology track also emphasized how technology is a tool and thus needs to be integrated into our overall work toward sustainable, inclusive development.
Among the key observations and lessons that I gathered from the Assembly include the following:
- There is a growing level of governmental restriction in some countries which tends to reduce the functionality of NGOs. Cambodia was cited as an example of such countries. Following from this CIVICUS has launched a Crisis Response Fund.
- There is the need to bridge the gap between formal and informal civil society organizations or actions. Formal organizations need to connect with the informal ones for effective impact.
- In a workshop on the post 2015 development goals agenda, most delegates felt that the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are not likely to be achieved and mentioned the need for future development goals to be developed from a rights based approach with social inclusion to ensure that vulnerable groups like people with disability and women are considered as key partners in the realization of a post 2015 agenda. Other emerging realities like migration and how diaspora communities and remittances can be considered as alternative means of financing development interventions were mentioned. One person in our group suggested that the name of any future global development goals should be “Universal Development Goals” for enhanced accountability.I found this workshop interesting and could not agree more with Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace when he said that Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the world are likely to benefit much more from a post MDGs agenda because while the CSOs were not organized in making proposals prior to the 2000 MDGs, CSOs are organizing themselves better now for a post 2015 world.
- Technology and social media were found as meaningful ways non-profit organizations can work with online volunteers and enhance solidarity among civil society organizations for effective impact.
Have you ever been a virtual volunteer? What is your take on virtual volunteering vis-à-vis on-site volunteering? What do you think about the current MDGs? Do we need a new global development framework after 2015? How would you like a post 2015 international development agenda to look like in terms of content and strategy?