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Over 2,700 registered for IDB-hosted international conference on mobilizing social capital and volunteerism in Latin America 22-23 May, Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile – Turnout is strong for Mobilizing Social Capital and Volunteerism in Latin America, an international conference to be held in Santiago, Chile, on 22-23 May 2003. The event is hosted by the Government of Chile and the Inter-American Initiative on Social Capital, Ethics, and Development of the Inter-American Development Bank with support from the Governments of France, Norway, and Spain.

Registration figures exceeding 2,700 from international organizations and all parts of Latin America testify to the region’s great potential in this area. The venue will be Santiago’s Diego Portales Convention Center.

Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, who will give the official welcome, has stated his intention of systematically supporting and encouraging volunteerism as a valuable contribution to development and society.

Prominent French philosopher Edgar Morin will deliver the keynote address. For him, “volunteer activities play an important role in times of disaster, but they should also have a role in everyday life,” and the “goodwill” of civil society is a “tremendous human resource.”

IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias has also emphasized “the very important contributions to be made by civil society in the fight against poverty.”

The opening panel will feature ECLAC Executive Secretary José Antonio Ocampo; Jaime Montalvo Correa, president of Spain’s Economic and Social Council; Carmelo Angulo Barturen, UNDP representative in Argentina; and Bernardo Kliksberg, General Coordinator of the IDB’s Inter-American Initiative on Social Capital, Ethics, and Development.

Volunteer activities generates an estimated five percent of gross domestic product in many developed countries. In Chile, Bernardo Kliksberg notes, “leaders in government, business, labor unions, and volunteer services, along with churches and a broad spectrum of youth, campus, and other organizations, will seek to mobilize this powerful force for ethics and development in the region.”

Participants will learn lessons from all over the Americas on “How to Encourage Volunteer Work,” “How to Build Social Capital,” “Governance for Development: The Role of Social Capital and Volunteerism,” and “Volunteer Work and Business.” Special panel discussions will be held on the challenges facing Latin America and the world in these areas.

Panelists will include Liz Burns, president of the International Association for Volunteering; Ad de Raad, Deputy Executive Coordinator of United Nations Volunteers; Juan Claro, president of the Chilean Entrepreneurship Organization; Bruce Harris, president of Casa Alianza; Ramón Romero, Ethical Advisor for Development to the President of Honduras; Professor Benedicte Bull of the University of Oslo; Martín Hopenhayn of ECLAC; Lindon Robinson of the University of Michigan; and Maria Teresa Szauer, Director of Sustainable Development at the Andean Development Corporation (ADC).

Running concurrently on 23 May will be “Renewing Social Capital Through Youth Volunteer Service,” a seminar organized by the IDB’s Youth Development and Outreach Program and Inter-American Initiative on Social Capital, Ethics and Development. There will also be an exhibition of youth volunteer contributions.

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