Sustainable Bangkok Campaign

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Mahidol University International College (MUIC) signed recently a Memorandum of Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding with several organizations as part of supporting the Sustainable Bangkok Campaign, a project of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

Assoc. Prof. Phitaya Charupoonphol, MUIC Dean, signed the two documents—binding MUIC with the Faculty of Environment and Resource Studies of Mahidol University, the Thailand Youth Media Network, and Asia-Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance—on November 11, 2015 in Bangkok to “create and develop a better and more sustainable society and environment for the city of Bangkok” through the Sustainable Bangkok Campaign, a multi-sectoral undertaking that will promote a “cleaner, greener, and safer city environment through creative activities by youth volunteer and media presence.”

MOU signing for the Sustainable Bangkok Campaign

Several MUIC faculty and staff members also attended the event. Some 24 MUIC students, meanwhile, underwent training for this campaign.

Source: http://www.muic.mahidol.ac.th/eng/?p=17452

Campaign Website: http://unsbc.com/

 

The power of volunteers for development, from Seoul to Kathmandu

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On the heels of the U.N.’s adoption in late September of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, an Asia Pacific volunteering alliance recently convened a forum for hundreds of youth and development partners from northeast Asia at the Korea Council on Foreign Relations in Seoul.

In his keynote address highlighting the role of volunteers in global development, Young-Mok Kim, president of the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), stressed the key role of Peace Corps volunteers and the Saemaul Undong village self-help model in Korea’s 50-year rise from a low-income to a high-income nation.

Since 1970, Korea’s Saemaul Undong (“New Community Movement”) has tested a combination of local self-help cooperative action with national development policy addressing poverty, relying on the spirit of rural communities. Local volunteering teams engaging youth and women have been tapped to guide and implement grassroots development projects and counter rural over-migration to urban areas, engaging in housing, local infrastructure and irrigation, credit unions, and cooperative businesses, among other holistic areas while enhancing an overall community spirit of ownership.

“As the first country to escape poverty and achieve economic and social development as well as democratization, the SDGs present us with an opportunity to expand our footprint and visibility in the development arena and live up to international expectations. In Korea, thanks to Saemaul Undong, the poverty rate was reduced from 34.6 percent to 6 percent and rural households’ income reached parity with that of urban households during the period from 1967 to 1984.” The Saemaul Undong model has been adapted in African and other developing nations and was featured in a special high-level forum on rural development during the recent U.N. General Assembly.

Kim stated: “It is important that we facilitate participatory engagement by harnessing the power of volunteerism to meet the key principle of the SDGs” and he indicated that the World Friends Korea (WFK) volunteer program learned from the nation’s experience with the Peace Corps. WFK has sent more than 50,000 volunteers abroad in service projects and to provide technical training. Kim noted KOICA ranks second in the world with regard to the number of volunteers sent to developing countries, sending 4,500 annually to 50 countries.

KOICA was a founding participant in the Asia Pacific Peace and Development Service Alliance (APPDSA) that was launched at the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) headquarters in Bangkok in October 2014 with the support of FK Norway, the Global Peace Foundation, KOICA, the Peace Corps and other partners. Kim hailed the effort “to form an alliance of upgrading our volunteer program and fostering the force of young people who can play crucial roles in the development cooperation arena.”

The multi-stakeholder platform forged in Southeast Asia is now engaging thousands of volunteers in climate-related projects, including massive river clean-up campaigns in Thailand and Nepal and ongoing “green Asia” tree-planting and eco-camps working to address desertification in Mongolia.   

After the Seoul convening, which launched the Northeast Asia volunteering initiative, I travelled to Kathmandu to assess the progress of the South Asia APPDSA Alliance hub for volunteerism. Convened in Nepal just prior to the April earthquake that took more than 9,000 lives, the Alliance’s South Asia convening provided a ready base of volunteers to implement the Kathmandu Call to Action after the disaster struck and served as a springboard for Rise Nepal, a youth-led relief and rebuilding initiative. To date, more than 1,600 young Nepali volunteers have helped nearly 3,000 households with emergency provisions, including food, and medical and hygiene supplies, and have constructed around 600 transitional homes.    

IBM stepped in to provide IT support, equipping youths with software and other technology to facilitate their efforts to rebuild their nation beyond short-term earthquake relief. Since the recent adoption of Nepal’s new constitution, this support is being broadened to include young leadership training in citizenship and service addressing longer-term goals, including SDGs across the South Asia region.

A recent Gallup article noted the power of the more than 1 billion people around the world who engage in volunteer service and the need to marshal their efforts to help countries meet their SDG targets by 2030. Since the Seoul forum, efforts are underway across the Asia-Pacific region to step-up specific volunteerism initiatives, provide technology that will further empower young volunteers, and document the results of ongoing environmental service projects such as the restoration of the Bagmati River in Nepal and counterpart efforts in Bangkok, Mongolia, and the Philippines.  

The growth of such multi-stakeholder volunteering alliances, coupled with KOICA’s experience in forging volunteerism-based community outcomes measurably addressing poverty, hold great promise in marshaling requisite human capital and innovation to help achieve the next generation development goals.

Source: http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2015/11/09-volunteers-development-seoul-kathmandu-caprara

 

Global Peace Foundation Nepal is Awarded by Prime Minister for Continuous Environmental Work

 

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Some five hundred Nepalese gathered in Kathmandu as the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers awarded the Global Peace Foundation (GPF)-Nepal on August 6, 2015 for its continuous efforts in rehabilitating Nepal’s main waterway, the Bagmati River, through the Bagmati River Clean-up Mega Campaign.

The Chief Secretary of Government of Nepal, Mr. Leela Mani Paudyal, presented a certificate of appreciation to Ram Rohan Panta, President of GPF-Nepal, as well as other representatives of organizations that are spearheading the campaign, a joint initiative of the government, private sector, communities and NGOs established on May 18, 2013.

Chief Secretary Paudyal congratulated everyone and stressed that through their joint efforts, the Bagmati River could be restored and preserved for future generations.  

Global Peace Foundation-Nepal has been organizing massive cleanings of the Bagmati River as well as waste management and public awareness programs since 2010 to tackle the river’s growing pollution problem through the River of Peace Campaign, a network of innovative and responsible individuals, families, clubs, societies and organizations committed to restoring in-city rivers through taking ownership and action.

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The Bagmati River is the largest waterway in Kathmandu Valley, comprised of 57 tributaries and rivulets running through the country’s capital, Kathmandu. The river is still seen as sacred, and Nepalese continue to bathe in its waters and cremate along its banks.

The Bagmati today is incredibly polluted, facing a number of serious environmental and ecological challenges. Hardly any aquatic life remains as sewers are dumping municipal and hospital waste directly into the water. Some other key contributors to the pollution are increasing population, direct disposal of untreated sewage into the river, uncontrolled sand mining, improper solid waste disposal, rapid construction of industries and uncontrolled squatter settlements (Friends of Bagmati).

Volunteers line up on the Bagmati River bank

As of now, GPF-Nepal has mobilized a network of more than 20,000 volunteers for the cleaning campaign. The campaign is not only aimed at restoring the river but raising young leaders to be aware of the critical need to maintain a clean environment and take up a culture of service and ownership over the river. 

GPF-Nepal volunteers have committed to regular cleanups at a 1 kilometer section of the Bagmati River and its banks, from Guheshowari to Pasupati Barmanal. Several other organizations taking part in the Bagmati River Clean Mega Campaign have also dedicated to regular clean-ups of specific upstream sections of the River.

GPF-Nepal believes a multi-faceted approach is necessary to create a sustainable solution; thus it provides a platform for experts, scientists, academics, dedicated citizens and organizations to discuss, plan and organize activities to revive the river. The Global Peace Foundation and its many partners will continue to spread awareness and support the restoration of this essential water source.