UN Volunteer Supports SIDS Capacity Development

May 13, 2013

UN Volunteer Wonjae Lee (left) in a meeting with representatives of the NSA secretariat and CUSO International. (UNV, 2013)

Bridgetown, Barbados: My assignment with the UNDP Sub-Regional Office for Barbados and the OECS as the UNV Institutional Capacity Development Officer is providing exciting opportunities to support 10 programme countries in the Eastern Caribbean. As a UN Volunteer, I have started to explore options and possibilities that provide increased opportunities for non-state actors and civil society organizations to develop their networking, promotion and administrative capacities.

The Eastern Caribbean is a region of Middle-Income Countries(MICs)/ Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and I take the opportunity to reach out to the diverse development partner organizations based in Barbados to support and collaborate at every opportunity. There is no denying that I still need to learn much more about my assignment, but now it is fair to say that I am on track and ready for real challenges. In addition, my assignment is all the more exciting because I have to adapt to different conditions of 10 countries that fall under the office’s area of responsibility.

I came to the UNDP Barbados and the OECS to support the Governance Team and promote volunteer development. My first task was to meet with Non State Actors (NSA) Advisory Panel of Barbados and identify capacity development requirements to assist the Panel as it coordinates the work and contribution of other NSAs to the fullest extent. The Panel was established based on the Memorandum of Understanding between Barbados and the European Union in order to facilitate deeper involvement of civil society in the Barbados/EU partnership. It is basically a consultative mechanism for NGOs to discuss priority development issues and to present recommendations to support the Barbados/EU partnership programme. So the more capable the Panel becomes in terms of effectiveness, the more influential the civil society will be in the dialogue on partnership development for Barbados.

To this date, I have held a series of consultative meetings with the Panel and its Secretariat to discuss the way forward to support their capacity development needs with UNV assistance. After successive meetings with the Secretariat team which helped me understand how the Panel operates, it was mutually agreed that it is important to develop a new strategy to re-tool and upgrade the operational capacities of the Panel as it develops new areas of assistance and support for non-state actors in Barbados.

Based on the results of the consultation so far, I concluded that the first step forward should be the comprehensive assessment of the baseline capacity of the Panel. To this end, in collaboration with the NSA secretariat, we started to gather information required for the assessment and to share constructive feedback during the drafting process.

I also contributed and reached out to a variety of organizations that expressed their interest in the development partnerships to support volunteer development and promotion in the Eastern Caribbean. UNDP, after extensive consultations with CUSO International, is working on developing collaboration strategies to expand and create a volunteerism support platform to serve the Eastern Caribbean and wider region. I keep close contact with the CUSO staff to identify new partnership programme opportunities. Moreover, I was also able to develop an interesting relationship with JICA, and we are probing the viability of two potential partnership projects that support new governance and environmental sustainability approaches and provide assistance to 2 Caribbean SIDS, as a pilot initiative.

Bio: Wonjae Lee was born in the Republic of Korea and graduated from the Korea University with master’s degree in international law and bachelor’s degree in general law. He served three years as an officer in the Republic of Korea Army and spent 3 weeks as a volunteer for the workcamp in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Now, he is the UNV Institutional Capacity Development Officer in the UNDP Sub-Regional Office for Barbados and the OECS.

* This article was posted on the official UNV website: http://www.unv.org/en/perspectives/doc/supporting-capacity-development-and.html

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