International Volunteers Day (IVD - 5 December 2020) was celebrated extensively in Turkey by the cooperation between UN Volunteers Programme in Turkey, National Volunteer Committee (UGK Türkiye) and German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ). 8.5 hours of live broadcast, 9 different panel sessions with 55 gender balanced panellists from 40 institutions, 3187 total number of audiences, 453 number of streamers on average followed the live broadcast. You can watch the live stream records – which is translated into sign language - on UGK Türkiye’s English and Turkish YouTube channels. 

International Volunteers Day is our time to call for action for the recognition of volunteers' impact on achieving the SDGs for a better future. This need for recognition became even more prominent during crisis periods and it is necessary for sustaining adequate standards for volunteers all around the world.

This year, IVD has been commemorated under extra-ordinary circumstances all around the world. Accordingly, IVD Event in Turkey was organized as a whole-day live-stream event, to reach a greater audience with the theme of “Together We Can”. Each session of the event can be watched separately from this link

The UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Mert Fırat in his opening remarks said that “I’ve realized that unequal access to intellectual resources was a significant problem as a child, and that has prompted me to take part in volunteerism. My journeys as a volunteer and a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador are intertwined.  UNV Turkey Country Coordinator Nil Memişoğlu reminded theme of the event and explained the need of a collaboration in finding fast and inclusive solutions. 

The event continued with opening remarks from Ambassador Volkan Bozkır - President of the 75th UN General Assembly, Toily Kurbanov – UN Volunteers Executive Coordinator, Alvaro Rodriguez - UN Resident Representative, Rubeena Esmail - GIZ Turkey Country Director, Derya Kılıçalp - National Volunteering Committee Secretariat, with the presentation of Dietician and SDG Activist Dilara Koçak. In “Volunteering in Disaster Management” Panel, there were active discussions around how the volunteers serving in this field played a key role in healing the wounds of the İzmir and Elazığ earthquakes in Turkey specifically the newly established Emergency Coordination Center.  Both Presidents of Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) Dr. Kerem Kınık and Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) Dr Mehmet Kasapoğlu emphasized the important role of online volunteering opportunities and invited the audience to register at Gönüllü-Ol platform and AFAD Volunteer website to take action.  Also, a prominent point was that these organizations not only are active during and after natural disasters, but they also work in order to take precautions beforehand. In “Public public-NGO cooperation for volunteerism” panel it is agreed to take joint efforts for a better volunteering scheme and the President of TUSEV Rana Kotan shared that “7% of the Turkish citizens take part in active volunteering, but this ratio can be increased through early education and curriculum changes.”. The importance of the city councils was also emphasized by the Directorate for EU Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bülent Özcan. On “Volunteerism in Universities” panel moderated by Bilgi University - Prof. Dr. Nurhan Yentürk shared their latest publication of Volunteerism in Turkey. İstanbul University - Assoc. Dr. Murat Şentürk specified that “Students are not knowledgeable regarding volunteerism, but through curriculum changes, we can change this for the better.”

During the Panel on “Intergenerational Volunteerism” with moderation of Musician and Producer Harun Tekin, and participation of Climate Activist – Selin Gören, UNDP Turkey Climate Change and Environment Portfolio Manager - Nuri Özbağdatlı, UNDP-Head of Environment Portfolio, Climate Activist - Atlas Sarrafoğlu and SDG Activist - İlayda Eskitaşçıoğlu, panelists discussed about the different generations of volunteering, the climate crisis and SDG activism. 

UN Volunteers serving in Turkey took active role during the event;  Within the scope of UN Women’s #16DaysofActivism, İpek Naz Çınar, Erman Fermancı (UN Women, Communications Assistants) have communicated the Light the Dark (Karanlığı Aydınlat) Campaign and Call for Action.  Tuğba Toplama (UNDP Turkey Project Assistant) acted as the master of ceremony for the second half of the event, while Zeynep Yılmaz & Hasan Berk Zengin (Online Volunteers) produced the social media content, and Menti sessions were moderated and conducted by Yaman Gönen (UNDP Turkey Project Assistant).

Between the panels, famous Turkish volunteer music cooperation Boğaziçi Jazz Choir appeared with musical performances.

 

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