[PRESS RELEASE] Over 64 million volunteering for sustainable development: actions count at Rio+20
Bonn, Germany: The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme launched the Volunteer Action Counts campaign on the 24th of April, and since then the campaign has been a great success, with more than 1,000 volunteering stories submitted and over 64 million volunteers acting for sustainable development counted so far on the campaign website.
"Volunteering is a key driver of the changes needed in our societies to achieve sustainable development," says United Nations Volunteers' Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri. "If we - each one of us - don't engage, participate and recognize our unsustainable lifestyles have to change, how can we expect to build a sustainable future for generations to come?"
The Volunteer Action Counts multimedia campaign gives people and organizations a chance to show what they are doing for the future of our planet. Stories are submitted by people individually (via Twitter or the campaign website: www.volunteeractioncounts.org) and by organizations whose volunteers are involved in projects for sustainable development. All of these submissions – individual actions and the number of volunteers involved in sustainable development initiatives – are added to the campaign volunteer counter, and featured through the website’s stories and multimedia.
Some of the initiatives featured through the campaign have been extremely successful in mobilizing volunteers for sustainable development. An example of this is the 'My Earth My Duty' initiative, spearheaded by Zee News, India's first cable satellite news channel, as part of its corporate social responsibility strategy, and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNV as part of the Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers in 2011. It aims to educate the nation about taking action to improve the environment, specifically by mobilizing people to plant trees. It started in 2010 and has since become an annual event, with more than 50 million volunteers involved, in 2011 alone, in planting and nurturing saplings across the country.
In Mozambique, over 700 volunteers have been mobilized through a VSO-backed initiative to support people living with HIV and AIDS. And 13.1 million volunteers serving with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working in health promotion, treatment and services (37 per cent), disaster preparedness, response and recovery (26 per cent), general support services (25 per cent) and social inclusion (12 per cent), helping to build resilient communities all over the world.
After the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on 11 March 2011, almost one million volunteers helped in the recovery process after the disaster, coordinated through Disaster Volunteer Centers created by Japan’s Council of Social Welfare.
Through UNDP-GEF’s Community-Based Adaptation Programme, seven UN Volunteers have been helping enhance the capacity of communities to alleviate the negative impacts of climate change through a set of projects in 10 different countries. And in China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, nearly 5,000 young Habitat for Humanity volunteers laid bricks, mixed cement and wielded hammers to help more than 500 families in just one day.
All these counted voices and stories of volunteers acting for social, economic and environmental transformation – whether individually or collectively, whether fighting poverty or protecting the environment – will be showcased at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20 through a multimedia presentation and exhibit to the over 50,000 people participating at the conference.
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