VSA and Pacific regional body, the SPC, come together
New Zealand's Volunteer Service Abroad and the regional body, the Pacific Community, have formed an alliance.
The New Zealand organisation, Volunteer Service Abroad, and the Pacific Community, the SPC, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together.
The three year partnership has been signed this week in Wellington by the Pacific Community's director-general, Colin Tukuitonga, and VSA's chief executive, Gill Greer.
Dr Greer says working with the Pacific Community will allow VSA to offer more opportunities for Kiwi volunteers.
GILL GREER: We've already in fact had a couple of volunteers working with them. One in particular with the forum fisheries agency about how to make sure that fishing stocks are not depleted and then we have another that's worked with them around the need to develop good, renewable energy sources within the Pacific. So we've done some of that already. This now recognises the fact that we all work together and the principles on which we work together for a common goal which is of course making sure that the people of the Pacific and their children can build a better future.
DON WISEMAN: Look both organisations are pretty old, I think 50 to 60 years old in both cases. How come it's taken so long to link up?
GG: I think for us, it's been a different approach. Our primary partners are our in-country partners across the Pacific that volunteers go to work with in partnership and build the capacity in the areas that they have identified that they want to build their capacity in. So they could government, they could be civil society or they could be the growing private sector. Those have been our primary partners. In the last few years, we have looked around and said, so, how can we extend that? How can we bring on different kinds of volunteers in addition to those who already do such great work. How can we extend the diversity of the assignments? What are the needs that we are not helping to meet at the moment. So we've developed a number of relationships with a couple of UN agencies, UN Women for example, and this is another of that kind where we can have a regional partnership so that it gives us breadth and length across the Pacific, as well as continuing with what is our focus, which is local capacity building for the needs that people have identified.
DW: VSA over the last four or five years has been bringing these shorter term assignments. Something like this I would imagine would lead to a lot more of that.
GG: It could. I think countries and partners in country, and then regional partners like the Pacific community will have different needs at different times. For example, we're looking for a arborist for Niue at the moment for SPC, somebody who has been prepared to be engaged there and we've gone to the universities and others to try to find somebody that is a horticulturalist with experience in tropical fruit, and we are not just amending that and saying, well, probably shorter term would be better than the longer term. So in some cases they're probably going to want somebody who is going to be there for two years, build the capacity, build the relationships, ensure sustainability. In others, they're going to identify with SPC that they want someone for a very specific purpose. So it might be how do you use a particular kind of financial software, and how do you adapt your business processes then to make efficient systems. And we can provide someone short term, very specific focus, so it's about what the partner needs for us.
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