Olivier Adam, UNV Executive Coordinator, with participants of the All-Russia Youth Educational Summer Forum, 'Terra Scientia Forum,' in Vladimirskaya ablast, Russia (UNV,2018)
As I write, we are months into the global COVID-19 response. This unprecedented challenge has rallied volunteer action throughout the world. Now it is more evident than ever that volunteering is essential to the future of people and the planet. This timely reminder comes as the United Nations Secretary-General launches the Decade of Action to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme continues to expand its support to the United Nations system through both advocating for volunteers worldwide and creating opportunities for qualified global citizens to contribute to United Nations efforts to achieve peace and development.
We are proud of our 8,282 UN Volunteers who served in 54 United Nations missions, agencies, funds and programmes across the globe in 2019 – the highest number of volunteers deployed in the history of the organization. Each of them contributed to the achievement of the SDGs with their exceptional expertise and commitment. In addition, in the context of ongoing global digital transformation, UNV matched 13,186 global citizens to online volunteer assignments.
Making our own contribution to United Nations reform, in 2019 we reached gender parity for the first time among our serving UN Volunteers, 51 percent being women. We recognize that global averages often conceal regional disparities and are pursuing our target to achieve gender parity in all countries where UN Volunteers serve.
UNV continued to champion South-South and triangular cooperation. In 2019, 67 percent of international UN Volunteers were from the Global South while 3,917 national UN Volunteers served with United Nations partners in their country of origin, bringing critical local knowledge and cultural understanding to their assignments. Furthermore, the creation of two new categories of UN Volunteers, refugee and community, expanded our options for drawing local talent into the United Nations while at the same time empowering target populations.
UNV’s achievements this year, which you will read about in the Report that follows, would not have been possible without strong partnerships. I thank all our partners for their continued trust and collaboration with UN Volunteers.
UN Volunteers contributed to accessible education for all - from providing education supplies to supporting public policy for child protection. While, in 2019, gender parity was reached among serving UN Volunteers worldwide. From indigenous communities of Latin America to post conflict Afghanistan, over 4,000 women UN Volunteers supported peace and development efforts. In addition, this year, UN Volunteers ensured access to health care, fought for zero hunger, and provided critical assistance in humanitarian aid of the United Nations.
In 2019, communities worldwide benefitted from UN Volunteers’ unique climate action solutions for alternative energy, sustainable cities, and climate smart agriculture. Whether it was land and ecosystems management in Senegal or advocating for low carbon and solar energy in Jordan, UN Volunteers helped communities adapt to environmental challenges. UN Volunteers also served in emergency response for natural disasters and provided manpower to the mitigation of man-made, geophysical and climate-related hazards. This year, from Latin America to Asia and Africa, UN Volunteers provided solutions for sustainable financing initiatives to preserve biodiversity and the ecosystems.
UNV, in 2019, deployed persons with disabilities within the United Nations. While community volunteering promoted social inclusion of the Roma in Serbia and refugees had volunteer opportunities in the camps of Burkina Faso and Kenya. By assessing discrimination, UN Volunteers’ community development committees in the urban slums of Bangladesh tackled equality issues. UN Volunteers supported displaced populations worldwide through refugee protection and resettlement programmes. While this year, an increasing number of UN Volunteer assignments in innovation across Asia, Africa and Europe brought out of the box solutions to achieve the SDGs.
In 2019, UN Volunteers supported 17 United Nations peacekeeping and political missions. From South Sudan to Central African Republic, and from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Guinea Bissau and Mali – these assignments included protection of civilians and establishment of protective environments. Electoral support to champion people’s voice was an important part of the UNV deployment in Afghanistan, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Papua New Guinea. Together with United Nations partners in Latin America, UN Volunteers supported the fair and efficient access to justice for all people. While in Asia and the Pacific, UN Volunteers promoted youth participation in decision-making roles.
With strong collaboration with United Nations partners, Member States, regional organizations, civil society and the private sector, in 2109, UNV continued promoting volunteerism to achieve the SDGs. There were joint action partnerships with UNICEF and UNFPA, and further strengthening of South-South cooperation. Exploring new horizons, UNV signed agreements with youth organizations and universities, and supported large-scale events training thousands of people. New partnerships were signed with the governments of Australia, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation. While this year, UNV’s Digital Transformation sponsored by Germany evolved UN Volunteer management. Private sector partnerships included IMPACT2030, Google Policy Fellowship Programme and Cisco.
In 2019, UNV’s support to develop volunteer legislation and national volunteer schemes benefitted countries in Asia and Africa. The Regional Offices engaged with Member States on their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs); leading to 28 of 47 VNRs recognizing the specific contribution of volunteering to the SDGs. UNV advised India, Uganda and Latin America countries on their national volunteer schemes this year. Going forward, the Plan of Action calls on Member States, United Nations partners, civil society, academia and the private sector to scale up the means in which volunteering can help achieve the SDGs. UNV conducted consultations with stakeholders to collect insights in the lead up to the Global Technical Meeting 2020 on Reimagining Volunteering for the 2030 Agenda. While, together with ILO, UNV supported statistical volunteer measurement for nine Member States.
UNV is as strong as its partnerships. UN Volunteers deliver on sustainable development for our United Nations partners.
Refer to our partnering pages for detailed information on our collaboration with key UN entity partners: https://www.unv.org/united-nations-partners.