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Statement by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme Executive Coordinator, Flavia Pansieri, on the occasion of International Volunteer Day (IVD), 5 December, 2012.

05 December 2012

Bonn, Germany: On International Volunteer Day 2012, we celebrate the commitment and impact that volunteers bring to making the world a better place.

Today, we uphold the values of volunteerism - solidarity, reciprocity, mutual trust and belonging – which are universal and transcend the boundaries of culture, language and geography. Every year, hundreds of millions of people around the world give their time and share their skills. They are driven by a desire to contribute to the well-being of their society, without expectation of material reward, and their efforts promote civic values and social cohesion.

In turn, the act of volunteering can transform volunteers. It enables us all to engage in and influence the future of our communities. This experience creates a transformational relationship which can strengthen a community’s physical, economic, spiritual and social well-being. It helps to build an active and healthy civil society, critical to a peace that is durable and development that is sustainable.

This is my fifth and last year as Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme. It has been a privilege to coordinate an organization dedicated to promoting volunteerism. I have seen how tens of thousands of UN Volunteers who support UN Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding Missions bring stability to societies damaged by violence. I have also seen how tens of thousands of UN Volunteers share their skills with community-based development projects - including the delivery of basic services, health care, crisis prevention and recovery, environment and climate change, education, and social inclusion projects. I have watched how these volunteers bring not only skills but also hope, bridge cultures, and often reach the most excluded communities.

Volunteerism plays a significant role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It plays a healing role by rebuilding trust in a post-conflict society. And its values – of solidarity and engagement – inspire us to live sustainably, so that our human actions do not jeopardise the needs, or the existence, of future generations. Our world is facing extraordinary challenges. We can meet these challenges when we commit ourselves to upholding volunteerism.

On International Volunteer Day (IVD), let us celebrate the role of volunteerism in building the future that we want and recognize the contributions volunteers make world-wide.

UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)