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First National Conference on V4D generates productive outcomes
Hanoi, 10 June 2010 - The first national conference on Volunteerism for Development hosted by The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCYU) in partnership with the United Nations in Viet Nam, concluded successfully in Hanoi on June 7th.

The conference aimed to contribute to the visibility of the work of volunteers and their contributions to development, as well as promote a common vision on the role of volunteerism in the achievement of national development goals, among other objectives.
The event was co-chaired by Mr. Vo Van Thuong, First Secretary of The Central Committee of Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and the VDVN Project Director, Mr. Barnaby Jones, UNDP Deputy Country Director representing Mr John Hendra, United Nations in Viet Nam Residence Coordinator, and Mr. Oliver Wittershagen, Portfolio Manager from UNV Headquarters.

The conference brought together over 150 representatives from the volunteer community in Viet Nam, comprising government ministries and agencies, international and national organizations, and volunteers within Viet Nam to discuss how volunteerism can contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.
In his message, Mr. Barnaby Jones stressed that every year, thousands of people, particularly young people, both national and international, take part in a wide range of volunteer activities that benefit Vietnamese communities and society. They work tirelessly all over the country - in cities, on farms, in remote and disadvantaged areas – often far from their loved ones and with little or no financial remuneration to provide assistance the people who are in need or vulnerable.

“Now more than ever, volunteerism can be an extremely powerful tool for positive change, and volunteers have a unique role to play in contributing to the development of Viet Nam. Volunteers can offer support, reassurance and expertise to those who feel overtaken by rapid social-economic changes and technological advances, and they can help to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals,” he said in his opening speech for the event.

During the morning session, five thematic presentations were made by different volunteering-involving organizations. These included the role of volunteerism in disaster risk reduction by Vietnam Red Cross, environmental protection by SJ Vietnam, social development by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, health and education by Voluntary Services Overseas, and economic development and job creation by Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union.
The intensive group discussions on these five thematic issues in the afternoon session generated some statements and recommendations around policies and practices on volunteerism for development. The issues faciliated enthusiastic discussions among participants, with lots of concerns and ideas expressed and presented.
The insights and outcomes from the group discussion were included in the conference conclusion by Mr. Vo Van Thuong, including:

* the important role that volunteerism plays in the socio-economic development in Vietnam;
* the necessity to develop a national volunteer resource information center to faciliate the activities of volunteer- involving organizations (VIOs) and identify opportunities for volunteers in the community;
* a proposal for skill trainings for volunteers to ensure better quality volunteerism;
* the suggestion/call for closer and stronger cooperation among international volunteer-involving organizations to help improve the effectiveness of the work done by international volunteers in Vietnam as well as improve information and resource sharing; and
* a proposal regarding the development of a comprehensive policy on volunteerism.

The conference was organized through the Strengthening Capacity of Volunteerism for Development in Viet Nam (VDVN) project. The three-year VDVN project was signed on February 18, 2009 and aims to assist in the matching of volunteers to volunteer opportunities, increase access to reliable information about volunteering and the needs of the sector, and find new ways to network volunteer-involving organizations and volunteers to share best practices and experiences.
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