Last year, the United Nations proclaimed 2001 "The International Year of Volunteers" (IYV2001). This November, after a year of worldwide projects, events and initiatives, volunteers and volunteer coordinators from all over the globe will meet to evaluate the outcomes the Year.
Over 120 national committees all over the world have worked throughout the year to implement the four major objectives of IYV2001: Recognition, Facilitation, Networking and Promotion of volunteer work in their respective countries. From Argentina to China, committees worldwide have seized the opportunity to highlight the achievements of millions of volunteer workers, as well as to offer a platform for more people to engage in volunteer activity.
The International Symposium on Volunteering will be held in Geneva, Switzerland from November 18 to 21, under the theme, "Think and Act Together - Both Locally and Globally". This timely event will enable the national committees and various organizations working with volunteers to get together and evaluate the year's successes-and failures. Participants will combine their experiences into a Symposium Report, which will be published and serve as an important contribution to the document on the IYV2001 that will be presented to the United Nations Secretary General in 2002. The Symposium will also allow the various actors to prepare and coordinate future volunteer action in the world.
The Symposium will be centered on the four objectives of the Year, with emphasis on Enhancing Human Values, Volunteering as a Social Force, Linking People Worldwide and Broadening Volunteer Opportunities. The program includes workshops devoted respectively to evaluation of the IYV2001, assessment of practices and plans for the future.
Moritz Leuenberger, President of the Swiss Confederation, will open the Symposium on Monday morning, November 19, along with a representative of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, Judith Stamm, President of iyv-forum.ch and Sharon Capeling-Alakija, Executive Coordinator. A message from Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, will be broadcast on videotape. Manuel Tornare, Mayor of the City of Geneva, will host the reception at the end of the day.
H.R.H. Prince Felipe de Asturias of Spain, a longtime supporter of volunteer efforts and eminent person of the IYV 2001, will express his views on "Volunteering as a Bridge Between Generations" during Monday's afternoon session. On Tuesday, Alfredo Sfeir-Younis from the World Bank will tackle issues linked to volunteering and economies.
The Swiss Government, the State and City of Geneva, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and, the Swiss National Committee for the IYV 2001 (www.iyv-forum.ch) have all chipped in either financially or organizationally to make the Symposium a reality.
The ISV is being organized jointly by the International Symposium Association (ISA), an NGO that represents 10 organizations that work with volunteers worldwide, and by International Conference Volunteers (ICV), a Geneva-based NGO that provides volunteers for nonprofit conferences and other events. With a host of eminent persons supporting the cause, the Symposium promises to be an exciting week.