International Conference for Youth Volunteering and Cooperation Among UNESCO Designated Sites

The Youth Volunteering Conference was attended by Programme Manager Dr. Maria Smith. It was held in Berlin, Germany from 2-7 December 2018. The conference covered planning details of the new Youth voluntary service, discussions on issues relevant for international cooperation among National Commissions and UNESCO designated sites.

The first section was on Natural Heritage Sites and the history of volunteering in Germany with storytelling by two volunteers. Part two looked at cooperation of National Commissions reaching the next level. This was done in groups.

The third segment looked at Geoparks World Heritage, Intangible Heritage and University Chairs. Discussions followed as to how all of the above areas could help to make Biosphere Reserve Sustainable. A feature of this section was a discussion on how to make volunteering a two way road. It was noted that volunteers were always coming from Germany and that it is time we find a way to make it two way.

The remainder of conference focused on visits to sites. There were many features in the Spreeworld Biosphere Reserve and Beach Forest (a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site) but what I found worthy was what was described as the development zone. The development zone had area for lodging, entertainment, traditional farming, heritage buildings, restaurants, shops, bars, Art galleries and small villages. The development zones were established to make the projects sustainable.

The Conference was sponsored by the German National Commission for UNESCO. There were over two hundred participants from all over the globe.