Joint Voluntary Service Initiative of UNV and EU in the Balkans
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the European Voluntary Service (EVS) of the European Union have agreed to join forces in a pilot project for 2005.
The European Commission is contributing with a funding close to EUR 100,000 from the EU YOUTH programme. 14 exchanges of young volunteers and a training course during this April in Bonn and Brussels are being supported in the framework of the UNV/United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) “Regional Integration through Volunteers Exchanges for Reconciliation of South-East Europe” — the RIVER SEE Programme.
Civil Society Organizations will benefit having the possibility to host volunteers able to enhance their outreach and capacity. Young people are doing voluntary work in non-profit making local projects in different areas. At the same time, they will benefit from the non-formal learning experience and acquire new skills and competencies. Continuous pedagogical support and regular training sessions are an integral part of EVS and therefore also of this project.
The South East Europe Resource Centre of the EU YOUTH programme is involved in delivering some of this training. Furthermore, the UNV/EVS Pilot Project encompasses a customized and targeted training course that will be organised to further strengthen the capacities of the hosting and sending organisations involved, sharing best practices and volunteers’ experiences. This will be supported by state-of-the-art information management systems on volunteer resources and potential host organisations in the European Union and South East Europe (SEE).
The UNV/EVS Pilot Project will provide an added value to the “Regional Integration through Volunteers Exchanges for Reconciliation of SEE” programme (UNV/UNDP RIVER SEE) representing a unique opportunity for UNDP and UNV to join their forces and collaborative efforts toward a common approach and strategy for regional integration in the Balkans. This programme, coordinated by UNV/UNDP BiH, aims at setting up a Volunteer Exchange scheme for the Balkan Region by enhancing the capacity, and stimulating the creativity of Civil Society/Voluntary Involving Organisations (CSO/VIOs), community groups and individuals. The UNV/UNDP RIVER SEE programme is being implemented in close collaboration with the Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO), OneWorld Southeast Europe (OW SEE), the South Eastern European Youth Network (SEEYN) and 14 Implementing Partner Organisations from the Balkans.
The UNV and EVS have similar interests in the areas of active citizenship, solidarity and voluntary activities of young people. The aim of the project is therefore to enable young people from EU Member States and the Balkan region to work together as volunteers with civil society organisations, thus contributing to a lasting peace in the Balkans. It will create and strengthen intercultural networks and coalitions through joint activities among the organisations involved, increase trust and confidence between individuals, and promote social inclusion, community development and cross-border cooperation. The project serves also to test the viability of joint programming and operations.
The RIVER SEE programme aims at setting up a Volunteer Exchange scheme for the Balkan Region that develops the capacity of the Civil Society/Voluntary Involving Organizations (CSO/VIOs), community groups and individuals to be proactively involved in civil initiatives that reinforce development efforts and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) while contributing to a process of regional confidence-building and reconciliation. More specifically, the volunteer exchanges will contribute to develop the organizational and coordination capacity of Civil Society/Volunteer-Involving Organisations to network cross-culturally and across borders with other grass-root organisations, communities and individuals.
The volunteer exchanges will contribute to building substantial volunteer capacity; partnerships and skills through outreach and training while improving their capacity to target specific issues related to local development and governance processes. Ten volunteer exchanges between the Balkans and EU member states (in both directions) and an unprecedented exchange of four volunteers among countries in the Balkan region is currently taking place. For the first time the EU/YOUTH European Voluntary Service Programme is supporting exchanges among SEE countries. UNV/UNDP and EU/YOUTH/EVS join their forces to promote and support the setting up of an innovative volunteer exchange scheme.