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Climate-risk communities to benefit from volunteerism project

12 February 2009

Bonn, Germany and Tokyo, Japan: Rural communities in seven pilot countries on three continents will receive additional support to help them cope with climate change, thanks to a new UNV project partly funded by the Japanese Government.

UNV volunteers, in cooperation with UNDP and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme, will train community volunteers, supporting them as they develop their own solutions and share knowledge about how to cope with the challenges of climate change. The project will build community capacities and develop methods to measure and integrate voluntary contributions to adaptation efforts.

Japan this week approved US$ 1 million of funding for the project. The funds will be drawn from the UNV-managed Japan Trust Fund. UNV will add a further $553,000 from the UNV Special Voluntary Fund. Starting in 2009, the three-year project will focus on pilot countries including Bolivia, Guatemala, Morocco, Namibia, Niger and Samoa.

UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri said: “Volunteerism is a crucial way to engage individuals and entire communities in exploring ways to cope with the inevitable impact of a changing climate. Climate change is global yet the impacts vary widely and are often felt more intensely in communities where eco-systems and productive patterns are already fragile."

"For this reason," she continued, "the responses need to be community-specific, taking into account local conditions, capabilities and opportunities for alternative livelihoods. Japan’s support has enabled UNV’s participation in this project which will help people to explore ways to adapt to the effects of climate change.”

Japan has extended its support through its ‘Cool Earth Partnership’ initiative which supports developing countries' efforts to reduce emissions, enhance energy efficiency and help relieve the adverse impacts of climate change.

The UNV project will support the larger UNDP - Global Environmental Facility project ‘Community-Based Adaptation’. Adaptation is considered a key means of addressing the threats posed by global climate change, such as rising sea levels, variable weather patterns and changes in temperature and rainfall. These can all affect communities’ productive patterns and ultimately even threaten their survival.
UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)