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UAE Government launches National Year of Giving Strategy

posted on 06/03/2017: 1843 views


Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the government of the United Arab Emirates has launched the National Strategy for the Year of Giving, declared by the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The launch took place during a Cabinet meeting held at the Wahat Al Karama memorial site in Abu Dhabi that commemorates the UAE's martyrs who laid down their lives in service of the nation. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, were also in attendance.

The strategy, the largest of its kind on a national level, aims to promote philanthropic and humanitarian work across the public and private sectors, and place giving at the heart of the national agenda. It was formulated based on the outcomes of the Year of Giving Retreat, held in February in Dubai, that brought together more than 100 national dignitaries to share ideas on boosting charity and philanthropy.

With the aim of instilling a culture of giving across the UAE and institutionalising charity efforts, the National Strategy for the Year of Giving is a major step towards promoting and sustaining philanthropy and humanitarian work in the UAE. In addition, it intends to ensure that private sector companies contribute their fair share to the development of the country.

The National Strategy has launched a total of 1,000 government-backed initiatives – each with a specific agenda and timeframe – with the goal of establishing a comprehensive giving framework that will boost the levels of happiness, stability, and well-being. One of these initiatives seeks to develop and implement four policies focused on social responsibility, volunteerism, endowment, and serving the nation respectively.

Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future and Chairman of the Higher National Committee for the Year of Giving, said: "The National Strategy serves as a detailed roadmap for philanthropic and charity work in the UAE through a series of unique programmes and initiatives that reinforce the status of the country as a beacon of humanitarianism. It reflects the vision of our wise leadership to make giving an integral part of social and corporate culture with the participation of all segments of society."

He emphasised that the strategy was based on in-depth studies of the field on the local level as well as on international experience and global best practices across all sectors of developmental and humanitarian work.

"Humanitarian and development organisations play a crucial role in our efforts. They gain people's support, contribute to the soft power of the UAE, and reinforce its image as the most generous country in the world," he added.

The National Strategy for the Year of Giving comprises more than 1,000 programmes and initiatives to be implemented by over 100 entities and strategic projects. Supervised by Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, it encompasses six pillars.

Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, is in charge of the corporate social responsibility pillar. The volunteerism pillar falls under the remit of Najla bint Mohammed Al Awar, Minister of Community Development. Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation, oversees the humanitarian organisations pillar. Dr Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of the National Media Council, is responsible for the media pillar. Ohoud bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness, heads the legislations and policies pillar. Finally, Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth, is in charge of the pillar related to serving the nation.

Each of the six pillars represents a specific objective. The first pillar aims to engage private companies in development projects as part of their corporate social responsibility. The second pillar promotes the spirit of volunteerism in the UAE through launching specialised volunteering programs among various segments of society. The third pillar enhances the desire to serve the nation through emphasising the responsibility of individuals to contribute to the prosperity of the nation. The fourth pillar supports the development of humanitarian organisations in the UAE. The fifth pillar seeks to establish a comprehensive legislative framework to enhance the governance of charity work with the ultimate goal of ensuring the sustainability of humanitarian and charity activities. The purpose of the sixth and final pillar is to leverage the role of the media in supporting the Year of Giving and promoting its initiatives.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a key pillar of the Year of Giving. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, who oversees the pillar, said: "Our goal in the Year of Giving is to enhance the role of the private sector as a key partner of the government in its comprehensive development efforts through encouraging companies to adopt a more effective CSR concept. The benefits are mutual – optimal implementation of CSR contributes to the development of the companies as well as to the sustainability and expansion of their activities within the framework of government support and constant media coverage."

"The development of any economic activity is directly related to its contribution to the development of the community and its economic, cultural and civilisational progress,"he added.

Under the umbrella of corporate social responsibility and government-private sector partnerships, the National Strategy for the Year of Giving has adopted 10 initiatives.

The first of them is the CSR Smart Platform – an integrated smart application that will direct the contribution of participating companies in line with the society's priorities. The e-platform will serve as a coordination tool between companies and government entities while highlighting those development initiatives and projects that need support most urgently.

Another initiative is the CSR Coordination Forum that will help build partnerships between leaders in the private sector and the charity and humanitarian aid sector. Linked to the CSR Smart Platform as a complementary tool, the forum will provide a regular communication platform to exchange information and expertise, agree on priorities, and manage joint investments.

The third initiative is CSR Action Committees that will develop from the CSR Coordination Forum according to subjects of common interest to outline areas of cooperation between the private sector and non-profit organisations.

The fourth initiative is National Statistics on CSR that will identify and collect statistical data and research on CSR to observe current practices in the UAE and compare them to other countries, regularly publishing studies based on the results.

The fifth initiative is the annual National CSR Index that will rank companies in the UAE according to their contribution to CSR initiatives and projects.

Another initiative expected to have a major impact on companies' activities is the Mandatory Disclosure of CSR, which will institutionalise CSR activities and link them to the renewal of trade licenses. The move will make it mandatory for companies to provide information about their social, financial and in-kind contributions.

The Responsible Procurement initiative will allocate a percentage of government contracts to companies that excel in CSR activities. This will require a modification in standards related to selecting contractors and suppliers.

The Annual Announcement of CSR Results will reveal the rankings of the National CSR Index and recognize top performers. Workshops will be organised to highlight the importance of CSR activities.

For its part, the CSR Mark will allow companies and institutions to showcase their outstanding social contributions.

Finally, the CSR Passport is a special passport granted to a limited number of distinguished companies that have excelled in translating their social responsibility to an effective partnership with the government to serve the society.

As for volunteerism, 11 comprehensive government initiatives and projects have been approved.

Najla Al Awar, UAE Minister of Community Development, said: "The National Strategy for the Year of Giving aims to enhance the importance of volunteering as a human value that reflects the values underpinned by the Year of Giving and nurtures individuals' sense of responsibility. It also seeks to invest individual skills and energies in volunteering programmes and activities that benefit society."

"These initiatives and the opportunities that will impact all segments and serve all development and humanitarian areas seek to organise volunteerism on the individual and corporate level and make it a way of living in the UAE society. Volunteering is certainly a significant contributor to the national economy and social well-being,"she added.

The volunteerism initiatives and projects as highlighted by Al Awar include the National Volunteerism Platform, a comprehensive online database that contains personal information of volunteers, their interests, expertise, and areas of specialisations. Listing available volunteering opportunities and programmes and volunteering hours, the database will contain a list of entities that attract volunteers and entities that benefit from volunteering work, as well as the required skills and expertise. The platform is a smart application that coordinates and organizes volunteerism work across the UAE. Another initiative is the National Volunteerism Center, a federal government umbrella that coordinates volunteering work in the country. The center provides training to volunteers, conduct statistical studies, and publish reports on volunteerism in the UAE.

In an effort to enhance volunteerism in the UAE, the National Programme for Qualifying and Training Volunteers has been approved. Aiming to develop training and educational programs for volunteers in diverse areas to empower them with the requisite skills, the program targets active as well as potential volunteers from among the citizens and residents of the UAE. In order to utilise and invest specialised expertise, the strategy has also adopted the Specialised Volunteerism Program, which is the first of its kind in the country and encourages specialists and professionals, such as physicians, engineers, and technicians, to volunteer their time and experience to entities that require a certain specialised skill.

Other initiatives under the Volunteerism umbrella include Volunteerism Opportunities in Government Entities, which stipulates local and federal government entities to outline volunteering opportunities to all social segments, including specialised volunteering. Another one is Engaging Government Employees in Volunteerism by setting out plans and mechanisms that motivate local and federal government employees to volunteer. The System for Corporate Disclosure of Volunteering Activities aims to evaluate corporate volunteering work in the UAE through comparing the number of companies' employees to annual volunteering hours.

Volunteerism Giving Points is an initiative that seeks to recognise volunteerism work and evaluate it according to points calculated based on the financial value, volunteering hours and other standards that will be included in the volunteerism file. These points will be shared with relevant entities and dispatched as financial or in-kind awards to volunteers. The Annual Volunteerism Celebration is an event that will highlight the experiences of volunteers and recognise their contributions.

The National Strategy for Volunteerism 2021 will be prepared and implemented by government, private and civil organisations and entities. It will conduct a comprehensive study on volunteerism to enable the UAE to becomes a regional and global leader in volunteering.

One of the leading initiatives under the volunteerism umbrella is adopting the Volunteerism Curriculum as a national strategic initiative that aims to teach volunteerism at schools and nurture this noble value in students through inculcating an awareness on the importance and types of volunteerism and providing them with exposure to leading charitable personalities.

One of the objectives of volunteerism in 2017 is to reach at least two million hours of general and specialised volunteerism, in addition to registering 200,000 volunteers in the UAE within a comprehensive database. These volunteers will represent all social and educational segments and backgrounds and may be deployed according to their experiences, with at least 200 entities to benefit from this volunteering work, leading to operational and administrational cost savings of around AED200 million in beneficiary entities.

Among the key objectives of the Year of Giving Strategy is to reassert the role of humanitarian establishments in achieving the UAE development goals.

Reem Al Hashemi, Minister of International al Cooperation, said: "Giving back to society is genuinely rooted in the Emirati culture, and the UAE has a historical mission to solidify this culture on a global level. We believe that actions speak louder than words, so the UAE continues its commitments to offer support and aid to every person in need throughout the world. The UAE's humane gesture has resulted in the nation's name being widely and instantly associated with the concept of unlimited giving."

"We urge all humanitarian establishments to realise their vital role, and incorporate development goals within their mission and future vision. This can be done through vastly collaborating with and contributing to developmental projects within the UAE," she added.

In this context, Al Hashemi mentioned that the Year of Giving strategy consists of 10 main initiatives that collectively represent a comprehensive roadmap to develop the work mechanism of humanitarian establishments.

The 10 initiatives include: The Coordinating Council of the Humanitarian Establishments, which includes cooperating and linking humanitarian and charity organizations and enabling them to join forces to guarantee aligning their work with the UAE strategy.

The Council itself will develop a set of initiatives such as The Professional Diploma in Humanitarian Work. Another initiative is the The Smart Platform for Humanitarian and Charity Work, a flagship project which serves as a unifying platform for all humanitarian establishments in the UAE.

The Charity Deduction has been designed to primarily offer donation services through ATM machines, while the Charity Credit Card is yet another initiative that transfers a percentage of the purchase value to charity projects.

Meanwhile, The Development of Humanitarian Establishments in the UAE aims to strengthen the role of humanitarian organisations and enhance their services to make them leaders in the field, both regionally and globally. The plan will develop a Measurement and Self-evaluation Tool of the Work of Humanitarian Establishments, a special program to build institutional capacity in these organisations. This is in addition to the Quality and Excellence Standards in the Work of Humanitarian Establishments to ensure quality of work in the development space, and oblige the entities to endorse global excellence standards.

Media Another key objective of the Year of Giving Strategy is to emphasise the role of media in creating awareness and drive the public discourse to contribute to the Year of Giving strategy.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, Chairman of the National Media Council, said: "Media is a key partner in building a culture of giving and caring, and contributing to formulating a public opinion that supports the UAE's initiatives in this realm."

The National Media Council will coordinate with other media outlets within the UAE to build a culture in the Emarati society of embracing social responsibility and volunteerism. This should be achieved through the implementation of seven key strategic initiatives: The Generous Billion, for its part, is a collective commitment of all media outlets to supporting every initiative that fall under ‘social responsibility' with creating one billion Dirhams worth of media content in this sphere.

In addition, there is The Generous Application, a smart app that encompasses all charitable activities across the UAE and provides a comprehensive overview of them for the benefit of the public.

Another initiative, is the Knights of Good/ Generosity, which aims to highlight the efforts and achievements of individuals from within the UAE society in the field of charity to provide the media with enough information on these contributions.

In addition, the Creativity and Innovation for Good initiative is a contest for the Emarati youth to encourage them to participate in creating media content related to the goals of Year of Giving to raise awareness for the Year of Giving through the hashtag #YearOfGiving.

Another strategic initiative within the media sphere is Media Professionals for Good. This initiative offers media professionals the opportunity to volunteer in charity work, besides covering the stories of these efforts for their media outlets.

As part of their volunteerism, media professionals are also expected to host workshops and lectures and conduct research studies that contribute to the charity work they are engaged with. Social media influencers will join hands with the media personalities, thinkers, writers and artists to reinforce the culture of Year of Giving and to deliver its messages to the target audience. Among its objectives, the initiative aims to enable these creative minds to come up with innovative ideas that contribute to enhancing public awareness of the key messages of the Year of Giving.

Finally, The Walk for Giving aims to convene media professionals and social media influencers in a public awareness activity so that the messages of the Year of Giving reach the largest audience in the UAE society.

The Legislations and Policies constitute the legal framework that governs the pillars and paths of the Year of Giving and offers an enabling tool to achieve its vision, mission and general goals. The National Strategy of the Year of Giving seeks to institutionalize humanitarian and charity work in the UAE through laws that govern giving in all its forms and levels, identifies its mechanisms and directs its channels, in a way that ensures the sustainability of these efforts.

In this context, Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness, said: "The task of legislation is not merely to maintain the security and rights, but also to protect values and constructive behaviors. It institutionalises, organises and promotes giving, and thus helps achieve happiness."

She affirmed that "all paths of the National Strategy of Giving aim to ensure the sustainability of charity efforts in the country, but there is an urgent need for regulatory and legislative framework for the Year of Giving to ensure its message is conveyed to future generations."

The National Strategy of Giving includes four legislative initiatives and five incentive programs for giving as giving is linked to positive emotions and plays an important role in strengthening community ties, in addition to its role in spreading happiness.

The strategic initiatives include the Federal Law of Volunteerism, which will put all the regulations and practices of volunteerism in a legislative framework, thus contributing to institutionalising and entrenching a culture of volunteerism. The Federal Law of Social Responsibility aims to organise social responsibility in the country and determine its ranges, regulations, incentives, and privileges. The third legislative initiative includes the Federal Law of Endowment, which aims to define endowment and its conditions, provisions, duration and types of endowment. The fourth legislative initiative is the Community Service Procedures initiative that can be applied in case of misdemeanors as an alternative to prison sentences of no more than six months. Likewise, the community service should not exceed three months.

In terms of incentive programmes of giving, there is the Billion of Giving programme that aims to create a suitable platform for the mobile communication devices, in a way that entrenches the culture of giving through a variety of awareness-raising activities. The aim of the programme is to initiate a million ways of giving by the end of 2017, and spread the awareness of the value of giving. There is also the 100 Days of Giving, which complements the "100 Days of Happiness" initiative. This initiative targets the schools and encourages them to organise specific activities that inspire students to understand the concept of giving, with an aim of building generations that make giving an integral part of their lives, within and outside the school.

The motivational programs include the National Survey of Giving initiative that aims to highlight giving behaviors in the UAE community, allowing the development of policies that promote giving and thus achieve happiness. Similarly, the Market of Giving initiative conceptualises an actual market that enables giving generously, and makes it easier for low-income families to meet their basic needs. It aims to contributes to a cultural shift and a change in mindset in the UAE community with regard to giving. Furthermore, the Taste the Flavour of Giving initiative calls for cooperation with local food and drinks suppliers to encourage them to develop an innovative concept on their menus associated with the Year of Giving.

Serving the Nation is an essential pillar in the overall vision of the Year of Giving. It reflects the importance of upholding the values of giving and sacrifice to enhance the country's status socially, economically, intellectually and from a humanitarian angle in a manner that supports its stability and contributes to its advancement.

In this regard, Shamma bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, asserted the importance of serving the nation through the National Strategy of Giving. She said: "The Serving the Nation pillar aims to make such service an essential aspect of social behavior for future generations to emulate, and helps define the people of the UAE."

She added: "Through the initiatives of serving the nation, we seek to provide a suitable environment to invest the energies of young people, and encourage young people in large numbers to serve their country and their society in all areas through providing them with various opportunities of giving. We believe doing so will enable them to meet the needs of the community and contribute constructively to its future development. Based on the faith of our leadership that young people are the creators of our future, we have factored in youth perceptions and suggestions in creating these initiatives that seek to drive home the value of service to the nation as the highest form of giving."

The National Strategy of Giving has adopted six initiatives under the agenda of serving the nation, which aim to instill the culture of serving the nation in the younger generation, and ensure a mutual spirit of giving between the country and its people. Young people will be encouraged to serve their nation in various fields and through all available means. The initiatives include 100 Fields to Serve the Nation, which identifies 100 different national development projects within specific areas and sectors.

Furthermore, this initiative includes the development of a platform to serve the nation – one that helps introduce all segments of society, especially young people, to government entities and national institutions that need their efforts and contributions in serving their nation and community.

Serving the nation has been also included in the artistic and literary agenda of the nation. Various artistic and literary awards in the country will include serving the nation as an essential award category, given the importance of artistic and literary awards as creative tools that communicate the message of serving the nation to younger generations. The National Youth Visits initiative for its part, will encourage the local youth councils across the UAE to organise visits to various monuments that symbolize the value of serving the nation and serve as a repository of national and historical stories - such as the Etihad Museum and Wahat Al Karama, among others.

Other initiatives under umbrella of Serving the Nation in the National Strategy of Giving include Pioneers of Giving, which aims to shape one Emirati young man and one Emirati young woman as pioneers of social communication. As ambassadors of the initiative, they will promote the value of giving and how to be practice it among individuals and institutions in the country. A National Idol initiative for its part, promotes role models that set an example in serving the nation, such as doctors, engineers, teachers, directors or even students who have developed nation-wide initiatives, or adopted pioneering ideas in serving the nation for the greater good. Since service to the nation is best reflected in the defence of the homeland, a new initiative has been adopted under the name Pride which seeks to celebrate participants engaged in national service and every success story of championship and sacrifice.

Among its key priorities, the Serving the Nation pillar aims to allocate five artistic and literary awards to acknowledge the values of service to the nation, register 20,000 young nationals in the 100 Fields to Serve the Nation initiative, and organise at least 70 visits by local youth councils to historical and cultural milestones in the country.

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