Decolonise IVS


Open Conference

Decolonizing volunteering: how can donors contribute to an equitable and sustainable volunteer programme?

Invited experts: 

Helke Espe (Norway, NOREC) 
Cecilia Milesi (Argentina, Global Change) 
Helen Perold (South Africa, Independent consultant) 
Ratherford Mwaruta (Zimbabwe, CCIVS EC member referent for the African region)

Graphic facilitator: Yorgos Konstantinou

Provisional programme (EET/UTC+2)

2:30 PM A short presentation of the International Voluntary Service movement Cecilia Milesi (Argentina, Global Change) 
3:00 PM Panel debate: decolonising volunteering: how can donors contribute to an equitable and sustainable volunteer programme?
4:00 PM Short break
4:14 PM Break-out rooms: How to engage in the decolonisation process?
5:15 PM Wrap up and conclusions.

Discover the engaging and insightful discussions during the Decolonise IVS! Hybrid Open conference.

Mauro Carta, our lead facilitator, kicked things off with support from Hani Nurlina and Daniela Corbalan from the CCIVS Youth Committee, introducing the organising team and our esteemed guest speakers. Hani and Daniela delved into the history of IVS, providing a backdrop for the dynamic conversations to come. Gianni Orsini, former CCIVS president, shared his perspective on global changes over the past five years and the vital role IVS plays in fostering global peace.

We were treated to a firsthand account of the transformative power of IVS through an eco-workcamp in Palestine, highlighting the profound impact it has on volunteer awareness of local realities. The Living Earth campaign and the Decolonise IVS! projects were also presented, underscoring the imperative of shifting mindsets and dismantling unequal power dynamics.Our guest speakers then took the stage to tackle key questions about the role of donors in perpetuating or combating inequality and colonial legacies within IVS. Their insights sparked a lively discussion about the urgent need to decolonize our practices and prioritise inclusivity and equity in all aspects of our work.

After a brief intermission, participants regrouped for smaller discussions, both online and offline, focusing on self-assessment tools, structural changes for more equitable partnerships, and practical steps for initiating decolonization efforts within organisations. In the self-assessment group, there was a consensus on the necessity of promoting such tools, particularly in regions where decolonial thinking is still nascent. The funding group highlighted the importance of equal partnerships and collaborative brainstorming to reshape existing funding practices. Meanwhile, the ideation group explored strategies for fostering inclusive spaces and addressing power imbalances.

As the conference drew to a close, Yorgos shared a sketch capturing the essence of our discussions, while Adham, Jalal, Linus, and Kola treated us to a musical finale. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all participants for their active engagement and invaluable contributions. Let’s continue these conversations and work together to drive positive change within IVS.

If you want to join our next actions, and you are under 30 years old, you can come to our Visual Storytelling Training, see the call here: Decolonise Now! Visual Storytelling Training Call for Pax.pdf

This project is supported by the EYF.

  The drawing was made by Yorgos Konstantinou from the event  


Helge Espe

Senior Adviser
NOREC – Norwegian Agency for Exchange Cooperation

Helge Espe is a sociologist/Social Scientist from University of Oslo as well as an Urban and Regional Planner. He is presently a senior adviser to Norec (Norwegian Agency for Exchange Cooperation), covering multi-lateral networking, including UN entities, the OECD, the AU and civil society networks. He thematically covers fields like policy and strategy development, research and advocacy, especially with regard to south-south and triangular cooperation, as well as international personnel exchange and volunteering.

Cecilia Milesi

Senior advisor 
ODI- global affairs think tank   
Founder Subir al Sur and Global Change Center

Cecilia is a Latin American sociologist with over 25 years of experience providing strategic advice to multilateral organizations, grant-makers, non-governmental organizations, and social movements in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe with the vision to create a world of dignity for all. Today, she is the Senior Advisor on Decolonizing Research Partnerships at ODI – a global affairs think-tank with offices in London, Washington and Brussels. 

Cecilia Milesi is the founder of Subir al Sur, today a SES Foundation’s programme promoting youth leadership and intercultural volunteering. Currently she is a member of Subir al Sur’s Advisory Board. Cecilia also established Global Change Center, a South-South platform raising Global South voices with the aim to catalyse change processes. 

Cecilia has provided strategic advise to some of the most renowned organizations from around the world: United Nations agencies (UNDP, UN-Women, UNV, UNOSSC, UNSSC), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Swedish International Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Amnesty International (International Secretariat), CDA-Collaborative Learning, Save the Children, Ford Foundation, Luminate, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Oxfam GB, Conciliation Resources, the Kering Foundation, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), among many others. 

Ratherford Mwaruta 

Board member CCIVS 
Director Zimbabwe Workcamp Association

Community-Driven Systems Change Practitioner by training and practice with strong biases on International Voluntary services as a vehicle to promote community development and international understanding. More than 25 years’ hands on experience on grassroots programs at National and international level with the Zimbabwe Workcamps Association (ZWA) , Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Services (CCIVS) and Southern Africa Workcamps Cooperation (SAWC).  Presently, working on the operationalization of the Pan Africa Volunteer platform -Network of African Voluntary Organizations (NAVO).

Helene Perold 

Social research consultant 
Member of various research groups and think tanks

Helene Perold is a South African independent social research consultant, evaluator, publisher and strategist who has worked in the fields of volunteering, active citizenship, youth development and community service (among others) for over 30 years.

She is well known and respected in the field of volunteering research regionally and internationally, and has worked on 23 studies about volunteering. She has also drafted four public policies on volunteering and civic service, participated in multiple international conferences, and has produced 30 research publications in this field.

She is a member of the FORUM Research, Policy and Practice Learning Group, the International Society for Third Sector Research, and the Africa Evidence Network.