Heritage has been an important element of local communities where IVS organisations have set up projects since the start of 20th century. Throughout the years organisations, mainly in Europe, have developed cooperation with various stakeholders, involving young and adult volunteers in the protection, preservation and valorisation of our tangible and intangible heritage. This topic has been taken until recent years in other regions of the world demonstrating the value of non-formal education as the IVS educational approach to disseminate the values and expertise developed at the inter-governmental level to a large public and in particular to young people, based on a dynamic dialogue between the different stakeholders. Besides the hundreds of projects run for many years by IVS organisations in small villages rescuing and preserving the local heritage, the implementation of the World Heritage Volunteers programme led by CCIVS and the UNESCO's World Heritage Centre since 2007 has allowed the set up of projects in more than 50 World Heritage sites reaching out hundreds of people from very diverse cultures. The programme aims at raising awareness about the necessity to protect, preserve and promote cultural and natural heritage in general and the inscribed or potential World Heritage (WH) sites in particular.
CCIVS' understanding of cultural diversity is based on UNESCO's approach of the concept stated in the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity adopted by UNESCO in 2001. "In its rich diversity, culture has intrinsic value for development as well as social cohesion and peace. Cultural diversity is a driving force of development, not only in respect of economic growth but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life. Cultural diversity is thus an asset that is indispensable for poverty reduction and the achievement of sustainable development". The promotion of cultural diversity – the "common humanity heritage" and its corollary dialogue, has become one of the most pressing contemporary issues.
In today's world intercultural dialogue is necessary to overcome stereotypes and prejudices, and to promote cultural diversity in a more productive way. International Voluntary Service has a positive influence in furthering another vision of diversity and helps ensure harmonious interactions amongst people and groups. Toolkits and publications on Cultural Diversity have been produced for fulfilling organisations' needs of having better preparation in the implementation projects dealing with heritage and cultural diversity.
Heritage and Cultural Diversity are strongly linked and the acceptance and recognition of both are conducive to dialogue among civilisations and cultures, respect and mutual understanding. The preservation of cultural heritage including respect for the traditions and customs is the base of an enriching cultural diversity.
The 10 year strategic plan for IVS 2011-2021 envisages:
Preserving, protecting, and promoting cultural heritage and diversity through International Voluntary Service activities in order to foster mutual understanding and respect within the global community
A. A global community where mutual understanding and respect are brought by active citizens that preserve, protect and promote cultural heritage and diversity
Heritage, tangible and intangible, is what human beings have inherited from their ancestors. It constitutes an irreplaceable source of life an inspiration and knowing it is the basis for its respect. It is our responsibility to preserve it in order to assure the preservation of our cultural diversity. Preserving it could be a key aspect in the development of human kind. Managing it properly starts by getting to know it and this should be done under the principles of sustainable development which could generate benefits in scientific, technological and economic activities. IVS, when integrated properly in heritage preservation and protection is a great tool and has an enormous potential to raise people's awareness about the importance of protecting it.
B. Develop and expand cooperation between organisations, institutions and government bodies in the field of Cultural Heritage and Diversity
The protection of our tangible and intangible heritage is everyone's responsibility and requires the participation of all stakeholders including the local communities, tourist visitors, specialists in heritage and governmental institutions in charge of the management and promotion of the sites. The IVS activities seek to employ available resources to develop and expand cooperation and partnership between local and global communities in order to protect, preserve and promote heritage. They also engage in common actions the various IVS networks in different countries on using the press media and other promotional tools to lobby and influence authorities for support.
C. Raise awareness about the impact of IVS in cultural heritage and diversity issues
Little is known about the impact of IVS actions in the preservation of cultural heritage and diversity. Measuring the impact will give every stakeholder involved the opportunity to get a clear picture on the work's progress. Thus, statistical data, volunteers' testimonies, evaluation of the experience, documentation of all elements involved would facilitate the understanding of the process and encourage the different stakeholders to support further actions.