How can Volunteerism Help Strengthen the Resilience of Communities against Emerging Global Risks?

UNV and GIZ Landmark Conference to tackle question from October 9-12th in Bonn

(Germany, Bonn - 30 September 2016)  The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ)―both members of the Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum)―are jointly hosting the 2016 International Volunteering Cooperation Organizations conference (IVCO 2016) on the UN Campus in Bonn. About 200 participants are expected to join the event which will take place from October 9-12th and focus on the theme Increasing Resilience of Communities Through Volunteering.

Recently, a number of risks have emerged that are changing the global peace and development agendas – new and persisting conflicts that cause migration, climate change, natural disasters, and pandemics. These risks affect all countries and bring about the need to build more resilient societies.

“About half of our partner countries are fragile and two out of three of these countries are also extremely poor. Poverty, fragility and violent conflicts are predominantly contributing to flight and migration”, says Managing Director of GIZ, Dr. Hans-Joachim Preuß. “Our development workers assist partner organisations with a high level of acceptancy within civil society with becoming more efficient and local communities with increasing their level of resilience. They thereby contribute substantially to a worldwide reduction of extreme poverty and the root causes of flight and migration.”

The international volunteering sector has an important role to play in strengthening the resilience of communities. The conference will highlight key areas where International Volunteer Co-operation Organizations (IVCOs) can make an impactful contribution.

The first conference day will be dedicated to a set of dialogue sessions aiming to deepen the understanding of key aspects that cause fragility and to find ways for IVCOs to strengthen resilience in these areas. What are the drivers for building resilient and sustainable communities? The participants will debate the key aspects that impact the sustainability of communities: social wellbeing, economic security, quality of education, good governance. Experienced speakers will point out what business models and frameworks contribute to the development of more resilient communities.

A panel discussion with Forum Chair Chris Eaton, UNV Executive Coordinator Richard Dictus and Managing Director of GIZ Dr. Hans Joachim Preuß – will summarise the key findings of the day and highlight ‘next steps’ in using international volunteering as a tool for building more resilient communities globally.

The second conference day will be dedicated to action items that will help improve the safety, protection, and well-being of volunteers. A strong focus will be on local volunteering – particularly, examples from the global south – and how international volunteering needs to be connected to it. In the afternoon participants will create a roadmap for action on how IVCOs can effectively contribute to decrease the impacts of the key aspects that contribute to fragility set out on day one of the conference.

The focus on day three will lie on bringing together the findings of day one and two and galvanise them into a declaration on Volunteering for More Resilient Development. In addition, the participants will have the chance to learn from best practices about strategies and tools to better advocate for international volunteering.

Also, the conference aims to highlight what IVCOs can do to ensure volunteerism is a critical resource for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the dedicated session on focus day three, panelists will discuss key elements of the UN General Assembly Plan of Action – a roadmap to integrate volunteering in the sustainable development agenda.

“Volunteerisms is probably the biggest opportunity for the SDGs to be really owned by people. The global political commitment to save the planet and humanity has not lead to ownership and involvement of all. A change in the way we consume, transport ourselves across the globe and the way we build our homes and raise our families, all need to come through participation of people – everyone of us. If we continue to live according to the current definitions of wealth and well-being, we will need 7.5 planets to survive. This requirement of engagement of all people is where volunteerism becomes relevant. Through volunteerism we build bridges, activate citizens, join debates, monitor progress, hold each other accountable and, simply put, make sure we start acting. Volunteers are the amino acids for SDG achievement.” says Richard Dictus, Executive Coordinator, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.

A Welcome Reception at the invitation of Lord Mayor of Bonn in the Old Town Hall on Sunday, 9 October, will set the scene for three days of consultations on international volunteering with inspirational talk and accompanied by classical German music.

IVCO is an annual conference led by Forum―the most significant global network of IVCOs―and represents a unique opportunity for information exchange, networking and advocacy work in this sector. UNV and GIZ were among the organizations that participated in IVCO 2015 in Japan that concluded with a Call to Action to support efforts that will achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

More Information

Where can I find more information on IVCO 2016?

Visit the IVCO 2016 website:
The site outlines the conference goals and the detailed program. Also, it guides you through the online registration process and contains valuable information on Bonn, this years’ IVCO host city.

Where can I register?

The conference registration is open for all interested participants and can be accessed under the following link:;

What are the arrangements for the media?

Accreditation information for media:
Press talk is planned for 10 October 2016 during the morning. Further details will be communicated by a UN Bonn media alert.


About the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum)

FORUM is the most significant global network of International Volunteer Co-operation Organisations (IVCOs). Forum exists to share information, develop good practice and enhance co-operation across the international volunteering and development sectors. It promotes the value of volunteering for development through policy engagement, mutual learning and by sharing innovative and good practices. Forum is a ‘virtual’ network, with a global membership that includes a range of organisations involved in international development, including non-government and state organisations.

About the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme

The United Nations Volunteer (UNV) programme contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. We work with partners to integrate qualified, highly motivated and well supported UN Volunteers into development programming and promote the value and global recognition of volunteerism. UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In 2015, UNV deployed 6,976 UN Volunteers in support of the development and peace interventions of the United Nations and other partners. These UN Volunteers came from 153 countries, while 82 per cent of them were from developing countries. Of these, 57 per cent were men and 43 per cent were women. Some 1,598 were below 29 years of age, and 435 were deployed under the youth volunteer modality. UN Volunteers made key contributions in 122 countries around the world. Additionally, over 11,000 UN Online Volunteers conducted 15,000 assignments over the Internet to bolster peace and development activities of United Nations entities, governments and civil society organizations.

About the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a global service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. As a public-benefit federal enterprise, GIZ supports the German Government – in particular the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) – and public and private sector clients in around 130 countries in achieving their objectives in international cooperation. With this aim, GIZ works together with its partners to develop effective solutions that offer people better prospects and sustainably improve their living conditions. One way of achieving this aim is the deployment of development workers. Being volunteers with a professional background, development workers advise government institutions and organisations from the private sector and the civil society at local and municipal level. Their advisory service focuses amongst others on the improvement of management skills, organisational excellence and skills-based training in the fields of democracy and education, promotion of economic development, employment, rural development, efficient health care systems, renewable energy, climate change and civil conflict transformation. Fostering widespread resilience within communities is another key aspect of many development workers’ assignments.


United Nations Volunteers programme: Jennifer Stapper, Tel. +49 (0)228 815 2163,

German Agency for International Cooperation: Detlev Tenzer, Tel.  + 49 (0) 228 4460-1848,