15 April 2022: The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) held an online exchange event between Shenzhen, China and Banjul, the Gambia) on youth volunteerism. Representatives of the Banjul City Council, the Banjul Youth Committee, the Gambia National Youth Council, the Shenzhen Federation of Youth Entrepreneurship Promotion, and UNOSSC attended the meeting.
Earlier this year, the UNOSSC Cities Project received demands from the city of Banjul to develop a systematic strategy and platform to further support youth volunteer development in the city. In response to this, UNOSSC, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Banjul City Council are in the process of formulating a joint pilot project under the framework of South-South cooperation.
According to the State of African Youth Report, youth (aged 15-35) make up more than 35 percent of the population in the Gambia. However, an estimated 15 percent of youth aged 15-24 are unemployed in the country, and they have been hit particularly hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the exchange, local representatives from the Gambia recognized that youth volunteerism is crucial for young people to access the labor market and find new opportunities at the start of their careers. Volunteerism not only benefits individual volunteers but also local communities and society as a whole, especially during the pandemic. Banjul would like to establish a framework of volunteerism and explore using digital platforms to involve young people in volunteer work.
After more than 30 years of development, Shenzhen has a deep-rooted volunteer culture and is home to more than 1,000 service teams and 2 million registered volunteers. The city sets up service stations in neighborhoods and near public venues, as well as utilizes a public platform to promote volunteer activities and projects. At the event, a technical expert from Shenzhen introduced the design of the volunteering platform, including network infrastructure, security architecture, and functional design.
Banjul and Shenzhen are very active partners of the Cities Project and have shared good practices and experiences in a variety of thematic areas. As local and international volunteers both play a key part in Shenzhen, Banjul also expressed interest in applying for volunteering opportunities in Shenzhen, once travel restrictions are eased. For the next step, the two cities will formulate a cooperation framework for the development of a digital platform and mutual learning.
About the South-South Cities Clusters
Under the Cities Project, “South-South Cities Clusters” were launched on the South-South Galaxy platform as an online community of practice dedicated to facilitating information sharing, knowledge exchange, networking, and project collaboration among cities, local authorities, UN agencies, and other development partners. Currently, it offers interactive thematic spaces on COVID-19 Response and Public Health; Sustainable Tourism Recovery, Heritage Protection and Creative Economy; Sustainable Agriculture Value Chain Development; E-Commerce Development, Digitization and Smart Cities; Disaster Risk Reduction, Mitigation and Resilient Cities; Sustainable Transport, Air Quality, Waste Management, Green Cities as well as Renewable Energy Development.