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IVCO 2014 Conference: Volunteering in a convergent world

Published on 22nd October 2014

Elizabeth Owens, Partnerships and Business Development Manager, blogs from Lima, Peru.

As a new member of the management team at VSA, I’m excited to be attending the IVCO conference in Lima.


IVCO is the International Forum for Volunteering in Development, and this year’s event is jointly hosted by the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI). There are over 200 people attending from all over the world, and it’s the first time it has been held in Latin America. This year the theme is about partnerships – fostering cross-sector collaborations towards sustainable development solutions, to be exact. I’ve been meeting representatives from public, private, academic and volunteer organisations.


Two men and one woman, smiling, at a table in a busy conference room

Left to right: Corey Griffin, Peace Corps; Jo Baker, International Service; and Michael Steeb, Association for Development Cooperation.


One of the highlights for me today was a presentation by Mathieu Bouchard, summarising recent research findings on cross-sector collaborations. We had some good discussion about this and, for me, the following key points from Mathieu rang true:

  • Communication and mutual trust and respect are key to successful partnerships
  • Attention to stakeholder inclusion builds new voices on development matters within communities
  • Collaborations offer many learning opportunities for volunteer organisations, and businesses, with exposure to different ways of thinking
  • Global multi-stakeholder platforms raise awareness and can foster positive change in corporate practices and community outcomes


These ideas were echoed later in the day in a speech by Patricia Fortier, the Canadian Ambassador for Peru and Bolivia. She commented, as someone who has worked with volunteer organisations in many countries, that the private sector is already very much part of the development sector. While government and business head offices tend to be based in large cities, volunteers are everywhere, including rural and remote areas. Volunteers provide keen insights; they offer on-the-ground knowledge and experience, and this can lead to better policy and better corporate decision making. Ambassador Fortier also mentioned the Canadian government’s $250 million commitment to their country’s flagship volunteer programmes – an inspiring recognition of the contribution made by volunteer organisations!

1 Comment

  • Debra Bradley on 23rd October

    That conference sounds perfect for your new role! Bringing everyone together and making the most of everyone's unique perspective and skills is a real challenge but you're the right person for the job!

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