"Harnessing the Power of Volunteerism – Building the Chinese Dream Together", 2013 Beijing International Volunteer Day Expo Opening Remarks

03 Dec 2013

by Mr Christophe Bahuet

UNDP Country Director

Beijing Beichen International Hotel, 05 December 2013

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great honour to be here today at the Beijing International Volunteer Day Expo, in celebration of volunteerism and in recognition of its valuable contribution towards achieving development goals.

At UNDP, we see volunteerism as an integral part of the way we do development. As we have seen from our experience around the world, when citizens are engaged as volunteers to share their experience and expertise and help communities overcome their challenges, development efforts have greater impact.

Volunteerism can help turn national strategies and development policies into meaningful and sustained change in communities and in the lives of people. To do this it is important to open up more space for volunteerism and establish the channels which enable and encourage people to contribute.

In China, volunteerism matters. As we have seen at the time of the Beijing Olympics, millions of Chinese are keen to volunteer for the Games and after that, continue to be involved in resolving issues faced by communities, such as for environmental protection, disaster response and for supporting poor and vulnerable groups in need. From Beijing, we have seen the same volunteering spirit in Guangzhou after the Asian Games and in Shanghai after the Shanghai Expo and even in Kazakhstan after the Winter Asian Games.

China’s experience in expanding volunteerism was reflected in the 2011 State of Volunteerism Report in China which contributed the Global State of Volunteerism Report that we are launching today. Based on its recommendations, we are already working with the Beijing Youth League and the Beijing Volunteer Federation, to improve China’s volunteering policies and management infrastructure, in order to create more innovative volunteering opportunities through community-based volunteer groups and social organizations. In the last three years, this Expo has brought together individuals who want to volunteer and volunteer organizations in need of help.  We are also developing volunteering programmes contributing to development efforts in poorer provinces in China, such as in Xinjiang. Thirdly, we are collaborating on increasing Chinese international volunteering to contribute to development efforts in other developing countries through south-south cooperation.

We cannot do all this alone. I would like to thank the Beijing Municipal Government for supporting this platform, and the organizers, Beijing Youth League, Beijing Volunteer Federation and the Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO).

I wish you all an inspiring International Volunteers Day!