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Programming volunteerism for development: A guidance note

12 February 2009

Bonn, Germany: Voluntary action is deeply embedded in most cultures.  It emerges from long-established, ancient traditions of sharing, whether understood as mutual aid and self-help, philanthropy and community service, or civic participation and advocacy.  Volunteering is both an opportunity and an asset for development.  It represents a tremendous resource for addressing many of the development challenges of our times. The value of volunteerism to development and its contributions in various forms is widely acknowledged.  In resolution 57/106 of the UN General Assembly on Follow-up to the International Year of Volunteers, governments recognized that “…volunteering, particularly at the community level, will help achieve the development goals and objectives set out in the United Nations Millennium Declaration…”.  It called for “the relevant organizations and bodies of the UN system to integrate volunteerism in its various forms into their policies, programmes and reports”.

Volunteerism has the potential to significantly promote broad-based national ownership, gender equality, inclusive participation and sustainability.  It is increasingly seen as an essential ingredient in achieving the MDGs.  Volunteerism for peace and development can therefore be an important element of comparative advantage of the UNCT.  The full realization of the potential of volunteerism for development will depend on the understanding, buy-in and support of stakeholders, especially government coordinating bodies that lead the country analysis process, as well as on the UN Resident Coordinator and the other UN Country Team (UNCT) members.   

In this context, the Guidance Note on Programming Volunteerism for  Development sets forth actions, and provides examples, to apply volunteerism in its various forms, as appropriate, within efforts to support country situation analysis and to prepare the UNDAF, including:
•    Assessment of the country’s social, legal and institutional base for volunteerism in various forms as part of the situation analysis;
•    Review of experience and lessons from volunteerism applied in previous UNDAFs; and
•    Identification of entry points during UNDAF preparation where volunteerism could make a significant, complementary and lasting contribution to national development efforts.

The expected result is a more effective and systematic approach to harness the potential of volunteerism for national development within the framework of UN development assistance.  The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme will be availed to provide support to stakeholders throughout the process.

Download the full guidance note below.

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