Volunteers4nature international conference
Article published on 06-02-2019
The National Commission of Germany for UNESCO welcomed in Berlin to the #volunteers4nature international conference 80 guests from National Commissions worldwide and representatives of UNESCO designated natural sites, to discuss the role of youth volunteering and strengthen the cooperation between National Commissions and designated sites. In addition, participants did 2 study visits, to Spreewald Biosphere Reserve and Grumsin beech forest, part of the World Heritage Site “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe”, transboundary property stretching over 12 countries, including Romania.
Ten years ago, the German Commission for UNESCO launched its culture international voluntary service kulturweit, in schools, universities, and UNESCO National Commissions worldwide. In 2018 it was announced the start of a new voluntary service, one focused on natural sites, naturweit. From March 2019 onwards German young adults will volunteer at UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, UNESCO Global Geoparks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In order to make this new program a success story it was held the #volunteers4nature international conference, where stakeholders from 30 countries on 4 continents discussed the implementation of the program, shared their experiences with volunteering programs and started cooperating with other members of the UNESCO family.
The representative of Romania to this conference was Iris Constantin, NCR UNESCO expert. Her workshop within the conference focused on how youth volunteering works in Romania for UNESCO sites, with a special emphasis on Hațeg Country UNESCO Global Geopark, global good case practice.
“For six months, volunteers will be able to experience UNESCO’s world network first-hand. The volunteers will broaden their outlook on global relationships and different ways of living and working. They will experience something completely new – people, cultures and, of course, nature! When you interact with something unfamiliar, you also learn something new about yourself. This is particularly important for young people who are trying to find their place in the world. Over and over again, we hear about how rewarding these experiences are. They help our volunteers adopt a positive attitude towards cooperation with others. In many cases, they also create friendships that will last a lifetime. Perspectives change, and not just in terms of geography.” Part of the welcome speech by Minister of State Michelle Müntefering at the opening of the conference.
“You all know the message the UNESCO Constitution starts with: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” In modern times, this also means entrenching the principles of environmental and climate protection in people’s minds. Only then can we hope to maintain peace in the long run. When asked what we wanted to achieve with kulturweit, I have often said that we want our volunteers to be ambassadors of a globalised world. Today, as I am standing in front of you, I have a different aim: I want our volunteers to be ambassadors of tomorrow's world, a world of sustainability.” Prof. Dr. Maria Böhmer, President of the German Commission for UNESCO.
Photos from the conference in the document below, prepared by the National Commission of Germany for UNESCO.