World NGO Day – International Celebration and Recognition

Last week on 27th of February, nearly sixty-three years after the definition of International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) was first introduced by the United Nations, hundreds of NGOs and international leaders gathered in Helsinki, Finland for the World NGO Day 2014 Forum in order to celebrate and mark the World NGO Day 2014 under theme “Your NGO day: a generation of new NGOs”.

The international forum agenda reflected some of the roles and values of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with speakers covering health, education, social welfare and the empowerment of women, children and youths.

The first day of the forum, evoked different themes of NGOs’ contributions worldwide.

Ms. Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Former Prime Minister of New Zealand congratulated with the World NGO Day and highlighted the importance of NGO sector for the UN through her video speech.

Mr. Andris Piebalgs, the European Commissioner for Development (European Commission) sent his regards and said “It’s only right that, on just one of those days, the world should celebrate NGOs and thank them for the tremendous work that they do.”

The international forum was opened by the Minister for International Development of Finland – Mr. Pekka Haavisto, the Executive Director of UNOPS – Mr. Jan Mattsson and the Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Public Information of UNESCO – Mr. Eric Falt.

The initiator of World NGO Day – Mr. Marcis Liors Skadmanis said:

The landscape is changing and a new generations of NGOs is required. One that has a new found relationship with donors. Various NGOs around the world lack the support they require to operate, and a new donor and NGO relationship is necessary for a more suitable future for all. NGOs can not just relay on governmental support – while in some countries cuts are being made on a regular basis. Its time the private and the corporate sector redefined the term “Corporate Social Responsibility”. We indeed require levels of collaboration among all stakeholders – but this also requires the determination of all stakeholders, to challenge the status quo for the benefit of society worldwide. Grass root NGOs needs a platforms to be acknowledged and sustainability can not solely depend on governmental funding. Empowerment of the NGO sector requires re-education of society and its our responsibility to start this process.

The World NGO Day 2014 Forum successfully discussed some of the development challenges issues a civil society face in these days. From Universal Education, Youth Empowerment, Health & Social Welfare to Gender Equality.

The two days event brought together various worldwide NGO leaders from various fields to which will take part in the following panel discussions: “Universal Education – NGOs & Private Enterprises”; “Health and Social Welfare” and “Children & Youth Empowerment – A Multi-SectoralApproach”.

Between speakers there were international NGO leaders like Ms. Aicha Bah Diallo, the Vice president NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee and Chair of Forum for African Women Educationalists FAWE, she also is a former Minister of Education of Guinea (Guinea / France); Ms. Mahnaz Afkhami, the President of Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) and Executive Director of Foundation for Iranian Studies, and the former Minister of Women’s Affairs of Iran (Iran / USA); Ms. Inger Prebensen, the Managing Director of Kolibri Kapital and the Former Deputy Director of International Monetary Fund, and Former Chair of the Board of Women’s World Banking from Norway; Mr. Ramadan Assi, Turkey Country Director of International Medical Corps and many others.

The second day of the forum, featured NGOs’ innovative initiatives and importance internationally.

Mrs. Britt Bohlin, the new Secretary General of the Secretariat to the Nordic Council, opened the second day of the forum where she spoke about inclusion of private sectors in NGOs’ activities. She illustrated her points by giving examples from the time when she served as the Governor of Jämtland in Sweeden.

World NGO Day 2014 Forum

Courtesy of World NGO Day 2014 Forum

The second day of the World NGO Day 2014 Forum introduced a new formula – “NGO Time Show” where 6 NGO contestants introduced their initiatives and projects to a high level panel of a 4 judges. This year NGO Time Show focused on “Society empowerment via Gender equality” and “Health and Social Welfare” and the winner was rewarded with a “support package” – encouraging a new donor relationship with the NGO sector, one of mentorship and support that is not just financially quantifiable. This year winner at “Health and Social Welfare” is FinFami – Mielenterveysomaisten keskusliitto and at “Society Empowerment via Gender Equality” is Finnish Federation of University Women.

Worldwide and Finland support

The World NGO Day 2014 Forum was supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Nordic Council; also sponsored by Finland’s Slot Machine Association – RAY, which holds the exclusive right to operate slot machines, casino games and casino gaming operations in Finland. And All the proceeds from the gaming operations are used to promote Finnish health and welfare.

Ray is the main supporter of civic action in Finland – funding NGOs to the tune of 308 million Euros in 2014. and second exclusive sponsor was Your Public Interest Registry, an NGO created by the Internet Society which manages the .ORG top-level domain, and the new .NGO and .ONG domains. Unlike the .ORG domain, .NGO will require to be validated of its legitimacy for websites accepting online donations, to avoid fraud. It also intends to create a directory service of NGOs to support their SEO and visibility, and develop a closed community for NGOs to learn from each other. A true platform to educate society about the NGO sector worldwide.

FINNBAY journalist Hamza Amarouche and Mrs. Britt Bohlin, the new Secretary General of the Secretariat to the Nordic Council. Courtesy of World NGO Day 2014 Forum

FINNBAY journalist Hamza Amarouche and Mrs. Britt Bohlin, the new Secretary General of the Secretariat to the Nordic Council. Courtesy of World NGO Day 2014 Forum

The forum was supported by many strategic partners like FINNBAY, the Finnish Citizen Forum, VALA, AIESEC and many others.

One of the representative of World NGO Day said to FINBAY: “During the two days event there were many other local World NGO Day events worldwide organising several by NGOs in their countries; like The NGO World Foundation in Pakistan; Ubuntu Education Fund in South Africa; Non-profit Tech for Good in USA, Afghan Institute of Learning in Afghanistan and to many others across the world.”

World NGO Day – International Day for NGOs on 27th February

The World NGO Day – an international day for NGOs and international initiative, supported by volunteers and Goodwill Ambassadors from around the world. It is not organized for political reasons, monetary reward, or personal gain. Everyone associated with the World NGO Day initiative, does so because they are passionate and believe in the power of NGOs and their important contribution to world around us. And that their contribution create a better and more effective civil society. Nowdays the World NGO Day is a new global movement focused on meaningful change through the power of innovative NGOs – for the benefit of society at large.

Internationally the World NGO Day was first acknowledged in 2010 at the Baltic Sea NGO Forum in Lithuania part of Baltic Sea presidency, then in Germany 2012 and worldwide. The official website is www.worldngoday.com

The initiator of World NGO Day is Mr. Marcis Liors Skadmanis (29) who is a young Latvian British entrepreneur and an active non-governmental organisation sector supporter – a member of the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations in U.S. (WANGO) – working closely with UNESCO, UN and other NGO leaders worldwide.

About Hamza Amarouche

Hamza is a senior journalist at FINNBAY. He specializes on events, cultural and social matters happening in Helsinki, Finland.

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