At the end of the summer Qatar was challenged to volunteer for a better future and on Saturday more than 1,500 residents showed their commitment by stepping up to that challenge. A crowd of eager, talented volunteers attended workshops to learn how to welcome and help the 17,000 participants converging on Doha for COP18/CMP8.
Those who attended the workshops were also among the first to see the specially designed uniform created for the volunteer workforce. The uniforms have a simple and smart design that makes it easy for the volunteers to be identified quickly by participants.
The volunteers, who were selected from more than 3,000 applicants, gathered at the Renaissance hotel in Doha to take part in the half-day training sessions. For many, it was their first chance to meet their fellow volunteers.
“I want to be a part of this team,” said Samer Muawia, who attended the training session and will be dividing his time between his own company and assisting the delegates, observers and members of the press who will be coming to Doha in a few weeks.
The chance to volunteer at the largest conference ever hosted in Qatar offers a valuable opportunity to many people living in Doha. Zakariya, who took part in the training session on Saturday afternoon, said: I’m volunteering to gain experience.”
The volunteers had the opportunity to greet each other on Saturday before watching a presentation on the UN Climate Change Conference, to help them understand the importance of the negotiations and how vital their roles are to the event.
They learnt about the history of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; the Kyoto Protocol, under which countries agreed to limit their greenhouse gas emissions; and the goals of the climate change negotiations.
Along with Qatari citizens, hundreds of the volunteers are nationals of other countries but now call Doha home after coming to the city for work opportunities.
“We want to show our patriotism for Qatar,” said Olumuyiwa, a Nigerian who has been living and working in his adopted home of Qatar for two years. His fellow countrymen and colleagues, Joseph and Peter, also expressed their enthusiasm, and described the training session as “fantastic”.
As residents of Qatar, the volunteers will be told about the significance of holding COP18/CMP8 in Doha, which marks the first time that the Conference has been held in the Middle East and is the biggest event of its kind ever held in the city.
The volunteers received practical information about their specific roles and duties. There will be seven groups of volunteers working in various areas, including the Airport Services division, who will welcome participants into the country.
Volunteers in the Information Services division will be based in pods around Doha and will be on hand to offer COP18/CMP8 participants information on events around the city or advice on the best places to eat.
Andrew Dunscomb, who was the lead presenter of the training session, said that he has been impressed by the enthusiasm of those who have signed up to help. “It is encouraging to see the commitment of volunteers,” he said.
The volunteers have been encouraged to share their experiences with other volunteers and the rest of the world by taking pictures and uploading them on to Instagram, a mobile phone application.
Organizers of the training session believe that the guidance provided to volunteers will leave them fully equipped to welcome the world to Doha for COP18/CMP8 and use these skills to help promote sustainability across the country in the future.