Role of volunteerism in Mongolia’s development and needs for an enabling environment creation for enhanced volunteering

03 Dec 2015

In 2015, Mongolia has garnered good attention on issues surrounding volunteerism, including but not limited to youth engagement, disaster management and sustainable development. Various open dialogues shed light on the important role of volunteerism in the development of Mongolia and people’s engagement over the course. It was also reaffirmed the necessity and benefits of having a law on volunteerism and volunteer programmes in Mongolia. 

Firstly, One Asia 2015 in May was organized to better recognize youth’s role in the future Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a global citizen and through various forms of civic engagement. Another was the High Level Development Dialogue on Strengthening the Coherence between Disaster Reduction, Response to Climate Change and Sustainable Development, where the contribution of volunteers were mentioned several times by national stakeholders.

The National Consultation on Volunteerism in June aimed at helping all stakeholders to keep abreast of the recent development concerning volunteerism in Mongolia and to suggest constructive recommendations for collaboration. Following this, the North-East Asia Forum on Youth Volunteerism was held, with focus on strengthening the contribution of youth engagement and volunteerism to enhance peace and development. Scaling up of successful programmes and models involving youth and multilateral partnership was discussed.

And of course, we cannot miss the adoption of the SDGs, and the following Social Good Summit in September. Especially, the Social Good Summit in Mongolia was very well supported by young and motivated volunteers not only for the organization itself, but also while discussing challenges for Mongolia in the years ahead and seeking social innovations and wider engagement of people that will help contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.  

In a more informal setting, the extent of participation at the volunteer network evening in Ulaanbaatar was an unexpectedly powerful demonstration, as a nice surprise, of people’s willingness and readiness to take part in volunteering when opportunities are available. More than 200 people came over to the evening meet-up on 4th November and showed their strong interest to share their times and skills with organizations and people in need of their support.

As recognized by many stakeholders and through research globally, volunteerism is a strategic and people-centered tool in addressing such areas as poverty reduction, social integration, youth empowerment, environmental protection, humanitarian action, etc. Well promoted and facilitated volunteerism, with integration into the national development strategy, law and programming, open avenues for people and communities to take proactive action against challenges which affect their daily life. Likewise, volunteerism can play a critical role in the implementation of the SDGs in the next 15 years, in particular at the local and national level, with strengthened ownership of the development agenda and bottom-up initiatives by people.  

To help this process in a more systematic manner, creating an enabling environment for volunteerism is key now. In Mongolia, volunteer involving organizations and other key stakeholders have been advocating to have a framework law on volunteerism. This law, once created, can be a reference point for other laws which contain volunteerism components, such as Law on Disaster Protection and Law on Fire Security.

During the last volunteerism consultation, it was also proposed to introduce a clear regulatory framework, humanitarian principles and incentives which are relevant in the Mongolian context, so that volunteers and their innovative actions for the benefit of society can be encouraged consistently.

Such law will also help private sectors’ engagement in and contribution to volunteerism development in Mongolia through corporate volunteering. People point out that there is an ample opportunity for the private sector to be engaged in volunteer initiatives as part of the corporate social responsibility by donating funds, supporting employees to volunteer, and initiating public private partnership, etc.    

Last but not least, youth in Mongolia consistently and increasingly have been expressing their willingness to participate in volunteering activities. Well thought-out volunteer schemes to support meaningful youth engagement will help them gain practical experience, build sense of community and contribute to socio-economic development of the country, as well tested and proved in other parts of the world.

Building on the achievements in 2015, the momentum should be kept to pave the enabling environment for volunteerism in Mongolia. UNV Mongolia will continue to support the ongoing efforts in 2016, by coordinating and engaging with all partners.     

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