Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in addressing development challenges


In Bhutan, the traditional type of volunteering happens informally in the rural areas, whereas more formal volunteering is not widespread. While first CSOs were registered only in 2010, there are quite a few local initiatives aimed at youth in the urban neighborhoods. With only 32 registered CSOs in Bhutan, it is fairly easy to get to know the most important ones and the people working there.

In 2013-14, UN Volunteer Riikka Suhonen worked with the New Development Paradigm Project. She supported its Secretariat, and helped implement activities related to furthering Bhutan's unique efforts in developing a new development paradigm based on happiness and well-being as well as linking of this new paradigm with volunteerism and the post-2015 agenda.

Bhutan cover report"The Bhutanese Voice. The Future We Want for All: Well-being and Happiness" reports on the national post-2015 consultations held in 2013.

While there is no direct mention of volunteerism in the report, many of the concepts used, like for example the Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index which includes the concept of volunteering in domains of "Time Use" and "Community Vitality", actually recognize the value of volunteerism and of using one's time to help others.

The fifth main point raised in the report is "universal responsibility", intended as the "importance of a greater understanding of, and consideration for, interdependence, and the corresponding need to inculcate a sense of universal responsibility as well as responsibility for future generations." (p. 13)

One participant stated: "Our culture has simple unwritten human values such as giving, sharing, helping, community feeling, harmonious living with nature and rich self-help traditional mechanism which is deeply embedded in our society. We can build on this and educate our society to be the change makers for post 2015." (p. 13)* 

"People's participation", "youth participation and engagement" and "active participation at all levels" are mentioned on page 14.

* Note: self-help actually means traditional forms of volunteering, helping the village community when building houses, organizing funerals etc.

Volunteers engage Bhutanese people in having their say at the UN through the MY World survey

Bhutan youth voting for MY World - Global Week of Action May14 UN Volunteers support the MY World Global Week of Action, aiming to collect 500,000 votes worldwide.

On 2-4 May 2014 in Thimphu, Bhutan, nearly 800 people voiced out what matters most to them by voting in the global MY World survey at the Tarayana Fair. UNDP Bhutan and UNV, in cooperation with the Tarayana Foundation, mobilized volunteer students from YHS Tarayana School Club to engage people in expressing their views through paper ballots at the MY World tent. Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, the Patron of the Tarayana Foundation, and the Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay inaugurated the MY World tent and also voted their top development priorities.

The Week of Action continues in the central and eastern parts of the country, where volunteers will discuss with youth and students about the role of volunteerism for development, and mobilize them to conduct the survey in their communities.

  • Post-2015 - why should Bhutan care? (March 2014)
    This article, authored by the UN Volunteer for
    post-2015, was published in the Bhutan national newspaper Kuensel, illustrates the role of Bhutan in the definition of the post-2015 agenda and ways in which ordinary Bhutanese citizens can participate and voice out their views
  • Newsletter "United Nations in Bhutan. Delivering as one" (special edition August 2013)


Social media engagement for the “1000 days of MDGs” Momentum campaign

- Research on youth organizations in Bangladesh was finished by online volunteers/ now UNV FU has a list of youth led or youth focused organizations in Bangladesh

YV  works with the International Volunteer Sending Agencies, as the office takes forward some of its programme work related to youth research and stories, with UN Communications Group in terms of working across agencies and again moving forward the youth/volunteerism agenda and then also assisting in some of the aspects related to the UNV Work Plans for Bangladesh

- Several meetings with IVSAs in Bangladesh concerning cooperation in different projects

UNV Bangladesh Newsletter

YV participated in Lessons Learnt Workshop with the Bangladesh Scouts, organized by Early Recovery Facilities (ERF) with support of UNV in Jessore

YV started the process of collecting stories for the MDG stories

Meeting with IVSA members at the beginning of July 2013

UNV Bangladesh Newsletter – supported by Lukas Fiechter: design and editing of the first newsletter of UNVBGD

NC participated in Lessons Learnt Workshop on disaster management, organized by Early Recovery Facilities (ERF) with support of UNV, report has been produced, one Swiss UNV Youth volunteer is assigned to the project

NC has started the process of collecting stories for the ‘MDG stories’

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