The First Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS) Partnership Meeting on “Future of Cultural Heritage and Diversity with International partners” was held on 8 February 2017 in Paris. Ms Mechtild Rössler presented a keynote speech on “The Challenges of Heritage Conservation and Volunteering Best Practices”.

The event brought together more than 200 international and national organizations focusing on local needs from all over the world; yearly over 40,000 volunteers are mobilized in 5,000 short and long- term actions in the fields of intercultural dialogue, sustainable development, World Heritage, health and conflict transformation.

Ms. Rössler reviewed the increasing challenges in heritage conservation, and stressed the key role played by local communities and civil society in the preservation, promotion and transmission of heritage sites. She further highlighted achievements and best practice of the World Heritage Volunteer Initiative, which was launched in 2008 in collaboration with CCIVS, within the framework of the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme, and paid tribute to the remarkable work of young volunteers mobilized globally around heritage preservation.  

“The power of volunteerism, which we have seen time and time again, especially through our engagement with young people, is that it can inspire not only the communities that it benefits, but also the youth volunteers themselves.”

She commended the organizers for providing an opportunity to exchange a rich array of experiences and to consider new ways of sharing ideas and knowledge in the preservation and conservation of heritage. She called for further collaboration and support to World Heritage conservation much needed in times of deliberate attacks against the common heritage of humankind.

CCIVS is a prominent partner for the World Heritage Education Programme, notably the World Heritage volunteers’ initiative. It is the world’s largest global network of grassroots organizations active in the field of International Voluntary Service (IVS) and created under the aegis of UNESCO in 1948.