21st Century Social Contract: Building more inclusive state-society relations through volunteering
Charting a bold new path to development where people and planet prosper requires a reset in our ways of working and collaborating. What would a new social contract between citizens and states that secures rights and dignity for all and leaves no one behind look like? How do we make sure that the state accounts for and addresses the needs of groups that are often left out, such as refugees, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples? And what is the role of volunteerism in ensuring that structures and systems provide inclusive outcomes for all people and groups?
These and other questions were discussed during our online dialogue on “21st Century Social Contract: Building more inclusive state-society relations through volunteering”, held on 14 June 2021 by UNV and Forum.
The speakers shared their insights on how volunteering can shape deliberative governance processes to be more inclusive, support the co-creation of public services for more equitable and inclusive outcomes for all, and inspire communities to come up with innovative solutions to social needs. In addition, we heard about key takeaways on how volunteering can shape institutions and norms for more inclusive development outcomes.
The dialogue was moderated by Aarathi Krishnan, Strategy and Foresight Advisor at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She led through the event, summarizing key points, connecting the dots between the different interventions, and raising important questions to the expert speakers.
Jane Muthumbi, Policy Specialist at UNV, set the scene for the dialogue by presenting UNV’s flagship State of the World’s Volunteerism Report (SWVR) and the theme for the 2022 edition, focusing on the social contract and how people and states are working directly together through new models for collaboration, namely: deliberative governance, co-production of services and social protection, and social innovation.
Odilia Romero, the Co-founder and Executive Director of Comunidades Indígenas en Liderazgo (CIELO), talked about how volunteering can shape deliberative governance processes, such as citizen assemblies or national dialogues, to be more inclusive and amplify the voices of those that are often left behind. She highlighted the crucial role of volunteers within indigenous communities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rosario Galarza, Intersectionality Officer at the International Disability Alliance (IDA), shared her insights on how volunteers’ involvement in the co-production of public services (such as health, education and safety nets) together with state authorities help achieve more inclusive and equitable outcomes. She particularly emphasized the need for participation of persons with disabilities and the reduction of barriers by designing systems that comprise four interrelated features: availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability.
Loredana Dicsi, Internal Communication and Membership Officer at the European Disability Forum (EF), shared key takeaways on how volunteering can shape institutions and norms for more inclusive development outcomes, based on her experience as a volunteer with disabilities. She highlighted that persons with disabilities should not only be seen as recipients of volunteer services, but that volunteers with disabilities should be involved for the contributions they can make.
Atem James Maker, Tertiary Connected Learning Coordinator with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), talked about how refugees are innovating through volunteering to address their needs and the needs of their communities. He shared how UNHCR trains refugee students in digital literacy skills to improve their own lives.
Erin Bateman, Director of Volunteer Cooperation with the World Volunteer Service of Canada and member of the board of the International Forum of Volunteering in Development, closed the meeting by providing an outlook to Forum’s annual IVCO conference in October 2021, which will focus on inclusive volunteering and global equality.
You can watch the full recording here.