Dubai, UAE :  Yesterday (December 20) marked the Italian Solidarity Day, an occasion aiming to consolidate and renew collaboration on matters related to international solidarity, cooperation and social reconstruction. Held at the Italy Pavilion in Expo 2020 with the participation of representatives from both UAE and Italy, the event witnessed Emirates Foundation for Youth Development announcing the World Volunteering Conference which will they host in Abu Dhabi in October 2022.

Solidarity has always been at the core of the United Nations, among the fundamental values of international relations to promote peace, human rights, social and economic development. And the Italian Solidary Day falls within the scope of the United Nations 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a special focus on those dealing with social equity, intergenerational justice, gender equality, combating poverty, and the impact of investments on society and inequalities.

The special forum was officially opened by Elena Bonetti, Italian Minister for Family and Equal Opportunities, who said: “Solidarity is a core value of our history and our identity. Here at Expo 2020, we recognize the urgency and need for more solidarity to solve future challenges. The path to the full recovery of our economy is still long, but we need to act, safeguard, and ensure equal opportunities for everyone in our society. Cooperation on national and international levels is the greatest act of solidarity for our community to come together and achieve social equality in all forms. We are all aware that the pandemic has dramatically increased all inequalities, inequalities that already existed in our society. During the pandemic the number of people living in poverty has risen by 120million, 1.6billion students were not in school and 9 million children were forced to work. Now, we have to work on these inequalities for a more sustainable development.”

Her Excellency Hessa Tahlak, U.A.E. Assistant Undersecretary of Social Development, presented the Ministry of Community Development in the UAE on the occasion of Italian Solidarity Day, said: “We at the UAE affirm that our developments are based on solidarity, interdependence, partnership and cooperation. These are the general principles of the Ministry of CD of the UAE, which represents the social sector with the vision of from care to development. And With a principle of a cohesive family and cohesive society. The UAE efforts and participation in promoting development in enabling societal inclusion is a reflected through existing partnerships among republican private sectors, civil society, institutions and associations of public interest targeting all segments of society, including children, youth, family, senior citizens and people of determination. Although Covid-19 pandemic had a very harsh impact on economies and nations, in addition to the negative impact it had on achieving sustainable development goals internationally, here in the UAE, we consider the pandemic as a transformation period where diff sectors had to play its full role on agility and integrity in order to cope with changes and challenges in order to serve the community and to leave no one behind. We are concerned with the social sector, which remains at the forefront of concern and priorities for the UAE government.

UAE is the host country of the 26th IAVE World Volunteer Conference 

In a panel discussion focused on the third sector and international cooperation, Hussain Al Balooshi, Special Projects Manager at Emirates Foundation for Youth Development, highlighted how the government agencies supported volunteer engagements through the pandemic. He said: “At Emirates Foundation, we do mobilise youth engagement in different segments of the community. We have a platform for volunteers in the UAE, with over 600,000 registered that participate in different activities on a daily basis. The COVID-19 was a test for us and our strength was shown by how the volunteers reacted and how our government agencies supported engagements. The health sector, the civil defence, the police, supported volunteers giving back to the community.”

Al Balooshi also announced that the Emirates Foundation in Abu Dhabi has been chosen as the host organization for IAVE World Volunteer Conference, the largest global gathering of volunteer experts and practitioners, in October 2022.

“We are hosting this conference in collaboration with the International Association for Volunteering Efforts and we are expecting 1,500 delegates to be part of this conference and 120 countries to be engaged. It will have different subjects related to volunteering and to NGOs. The objective is to connect this culture of volunteering with the UAE and to have a regional hub for it, which starts in the UAE, goes to the GCC countries, and to the Middle East, to Asia, to Europe, and to the US.”

How Italy promotes solidarity

“Italy is promoting the vision to focus on solidarity and cooperation at all levels. The Italian participation marks a new path for interdialogues, tolerance and partnerships at the international levels. There is no better place than here to continue inspiring this dialogue. These are the main principles to which we are aspiring today. Celebrating and promoting solidarity as we are doing now is even more important in this historical moment where all our communities need to restart and create a better future. Bridging the gap between different cultures is the step forward that everybody can take with the opportunity to build a future of solidarity and solidarity means first of all viewing differences. We need to listen to the younger generation to build policies with them. Our responsibility as policymakers is to address social injustices and inequalities, and integrates policies with economic interventions to support society. These actions are to promote equal advancement of all layers of society to ensure that no one is left behind. In addition, it is important to encourage the private sector to commit their resources to social investment as a part of their vision and strategy for development. Let me mention in this direction the investment of the Italian Recovery and Resilience Plan dedicated to the third sector which amounts to 20 billion euros. We must foster a new partnership between institutions, civil society and private sector to shape a new model for our society. Solidarity is a milestone of the world we want to shape. We must form connections and relations to reinforce our community,” Italian Minister Elena Bonetti added.

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