UN Volunteers


The UNV Annual Report 2015 showcases results achieved over the past year thanks to tireless efforts of UN Volunteers deployed around the world. UN Volunteers are ideally positioned to reach marginalized and vulnerable populations, and as such, UNV offers support and solutions that are locally-appropriate and sustainable. Volunteerism embodies the underlying principle of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind.

2015 marks the first year of our universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are truly our goals as they were shaped by people from all walks of life. The SDGs will guide development for the next fifteen years, offering an unprecedented opportunity to meet global aspirations for a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future.

executive briefing

welcome to
our world

2015 marks the first year that our universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) began. These goals are truly our goals as they were shaped by people from all walks of life. We have committed to eradicating poverty, fighting inequalities, building inclusive societies, securing the future of the planet and the wellbeing of future generations. We have committed to eradicating poverty, fighting inequalities, building inclusive societies, securing the future of the planet and the wellbeing of future generations through the Sustainable Development Goals. Volunteers are essential for implementation of the 17 goals. Volunteering is no longer simply nice to have. Worldwide, we see proof that it is a must have.

image sescription Helen Clark,
Administrator, United Nations Development Programme,
New York, June 2015
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This Annual Report is first and foremost about the dedication, skills and unrelenting spirit of UN Volunteers around the world. UNV had many successes in 2015, and we remain restless in our pursuit of peace and development through the transformative power of volunteerism. And there is no time better than now to highlight their efforts given the scale and ambition of the 2030 Agenda, the plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. On any given day, the work of one volunteer can propel us closer to a more inclusive and equitable world.

Richard Dictus,
Executive Coordinator, United Nations Volunteers, Bonn, June 2015


So what is it
that we do?

In 2015 alone, UNV deployed 6,796 UN Volunteers in 122 countries worldwide. 435 UN Youth Volunteers were sent on assignments around the world. 11,554 UN Online Volunteers proved that anyone anywhere can volunteer. UN Volunteers on assignment reached out to 60,000 other volunteers and 4.9 million engaged citizens in 132 countries. Expanding its field presence to be closer to our partners, UNV established regional offices in Bangkok, Nairobi and Panama. The Senegal Regional Office opened in early 2016 to cover West and Central Africa.

2015 was the first year of the SDGs and UNV has become the partner of choice in the increasingly complex field of global development and peacebuilding. Aligning with UNV’s Strategic Framework 2014-2017, the five priority areas are:

  • Securing access to basic social services
  • Community resilience for environment and disaster risk reduction
  • Peacebuilding
  • Youth
  • National capacity development through volunteer schemes

UNV also focuses on mainstreaming knowledge and innovation as cross-cutting themes.

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Our volunteer

18 arrow From the
global North

82 arrow From the
global South

6,796 arrow UN Volunteers
served with 36
UN entity partners
globe globe-stroke
man woman
sign-base sign-pointer1 sign-pointer2 sign-pointer4 sign-pointer5 sign-pointer6
153 arrow Countries
of origin
122 arrow Countries
of assignment


Delivering at the Grassroots presents just some highlights of UNV’s results and achievements in 2015. UNV has served as a bridge between the UN, civil society and governments for more than 45 years in over 140 countries. The chapters of this report showcase UNV and UN Volunteer interventions spanning UNV’s five programme priority areas, as well as knowledge and innovation.

access to social services

Securing access to basic social services

Chapter One outlines UNV’s efforts in securing access to basic social services, with focus on primary health care, women’s safety, as well as education for refugee children and how UN Volunteers can be mobilized quickly on the ground and with the trust of local citizens whose priorities they share.

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Community resilience

Community resilience for environment and disaster risk reduction

Chapter Two describes how UNV contributed to community resilience for environment and disaster risk reduction in areas of sustainability and crisis management, and how UN Volunteers value local knowledge in environmental management and capacity development to respond to natural disasters.

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Chapter Three highlights UNV and UN Volunteers’ essential support in peacebuilding, highlighting the 2,321 UN Volunteers who served in missions of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, 139 in missions of the UN Department of Political Affairs, and 64 in emergency health missions.

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Chapter Four on youth covers how UN Youth Volunteers are impacting peace and development from food security to national youth volunteering schemes. It highlight the commitment 1,598 UN Volunteers under the age of 29, including 435 UN Youth Volunteers, brought to their assignments in 72 countries.

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national capacity

National capacity development through volunteer schemes

Chapter Five describes UNV’s involvement in national capacity development through volunteer schemes, in areas such as national reconciliation and volunteerism policy consultation. It also highlights how UN Volunteers have mobilized thousands of other volunteers to engage in their communities.

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knowledge and innovation

Knowledge and innovation

Chapter Six highlights knowledge and innovation to build the financial, human resource and organizational infrastructure that facilitates volunteerism. It features the second State of the World’s Volunteerism Report, and UN Youth Volunteers who offer innovative solutions to development issues.

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UN Volunteer Inspirations

  • “By living in a cultural environment so distant from my own, I’m able to put in perspective my values and improve my ability to empathize with colleagues from different backgrounds. This gives me the chance to reflect about volunteerism, its universal acknowledgement and the impact it can have on peace and development.” UN Youth Volunteer Programme Policy Officer Thiago Resende Xavier (Brazil) in Pakistan
  • “As a child, I was brought up in a culture where giving was considered the right thing to do in life. It is through volunteerism that I have grown personally in ways I cannot describe. This experience has allowed me to see things from a new and different perspective. Volunteerism provides me with new opportunities and experience to grow, learn about a new culture and meet new people, while being part of a bigger family where everyone works for the same cause: to better the world we live in.” UN Volunteer Specialist in Gender-Responsive Peacebuilding Nasra Islan (Kenya) in Kyrgyzstan
  • “What amazed me was that in the somewhat charged context of Rakhine State, you still find communities where the social fabric is intact and where people prefer cooperation to confrontation. The leadership of the Rakhine village administrator, his constructive interaction with both communities, and his insistence to make the project a success inspires hope. We need to support it.” UN Volunteer Programme Officer Darko Petrovic (Serbia) in Myanmar
  • “As a woman, it is challenging not only due to the nature of the work, but also due to the emotional burden, as we remove the homes of other women. I felt I was not only an engineer, but also a woman supporting other women and I am proud of it. In a place like Gaza, with such high poverty and unemployment, volunteering for me and my colleagues is really something special. I enjoy it as I serve my people.” National UN Volunteer Engineer Mona Ouda in the State of Palestine
  • “I challenged societal norms and my family when I studied engineering and later by working in this field. My experience as a UN Volunteer has been amazing. I am working to help others improve their livelihoods. I am also contributing to protect the environment as the recycled rubble will be reused for roads.” National UN Volunteer Engineer Diana Abu Ramadan in the State of Palestine
  • “Being a woman is not a problem, it is about what one can offer. Engaging in volunteerism in my youth taught me that there is a lot to learn as a young person and one gains much more by engaging.” UN Volunteer Peace and Security Specialist Jane Strapola Awuor Mala (Kenya) in South Sudan
  • “I am the only UN Volunteer deployed to Kigali in Rwanda. I believe that one of my responsibilities is to encourage members of the community to provide technical support and enhance capacity through volunteerism. Through a community service called Umuganda which can be translated as ‘coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome’, I try to organize meetings with students to talk about community development. I really would like to leave Rwanda knowing that I made some positive impacts on the community I live with.” UN Volunteer Movement Control Assistant Carlot Duplessy (Haiti) in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • “One thing I have learned in working with the refugee youth in Dadaab is their willingness to voluntarily engage, especially peaceful coexistence and awareness raising activities. I enjoy carrying out my UN Youth Volunteer functions which help make opportunities available for the youth generation in Dadaab refugee camps.” UN Youth Volunteer Associate Community Services Officer Rex Laissezfaire (Malawi) in Kenya
  • “My greatest satisfaction as a volunteer was when one girl who participated in the labs started to volunteer in her own community. Being inspired to extend help, she became a volunteer teacher at the national library of Tashkent and continued DIY labs with her friends. For the rest of my life, I will always be grateful for the time I served as a UN Volunteer.” UN Youth Volunteer Community Outreach Specialist Jina Park (Republic of Korea) in Uzbekistan
  • “Among all the people I met, I will never forget one. He was a school drop-out, who had been suffering from cancer. After his recovery, he went back to school. Around the same time, I published a grant by the German Government for Syrian refugees living in Egypt to join Egyptian universities. I still hear him jumping with joy when he received the good news. He joined the Faculty of Engineering at Alexandria University. I would never have been able to be part of such an inspiring opportunity if I hadn’t been a national UN Volunteer.” National UN Volunteer Education Assistant Esraa Mohammed in Egypt
  • “This assignment was certainly a challenge for me, and it was also exciting. It is rewarding to see the results of my work being shared with the UN in Malawi and globally, and to know that I have made a significant contribution to development.” UN Volunteer Joint Procurement Coordinator Lilian Byansi (Uganda) in Malawi
  • “This UNV position is meaningful work. Serving as a UN Volunteer gave me a great opportunity to learn from experts and engage with real-world issues. I would definitely like to encourage more talented youths with relevant background to join the UNV team and to consider participating in constructing the capacity of space technology that brings the benefits of space to humanity.” National UN Volunteer Programme Officer Shenrui Li (China)
  • “It is rewarding to know that I am helping the Congolese community. I previously worked for the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia but I really wanted to look at our world from a different perspective. When I was younger, I would have never imagined working as a UN Volunteer for one of the biggest UN peacekeeping missions in the world and serving the community I am living with.” UN Volunteer Network Technician David Bzhania (Russia) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo


At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. Volunteerism facilitates engagement in the implementation of all goals. Volunteers build trust and mobilize people to collective action.

Download Volunteering for the SDGs
Increasing Social Capital Sustainable Ecosystems Education Enhancing Employability Monitoring Health Clean Water And Sanitation Gender Equality Strengthening Social Cohesion Renewable Energy Climate Action Leveraging Local Expertise Collection Sustainable Consumption

In 2015, Blue Room Talks were held at the newly formed UNV Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok. Four UN Volunteers from around the world shared their experiences and the impact they were making within communities. Representing nearly 6,800 UN Volunteers deployed in 2015, these UN Volunteer contributed in programmatic areas such as gender equity, disaster preparedness and response, rights of persons with disabilities, and sustainable economic development.

Sudan Talks

UN Volunteer Gender and Governance Advisor Awotash Tefera (Ethiopia) describes her assignment with UN Women in Juba, South Sudan.

Nepal Talks

UN Volunteer Associate Humanitarian Affairs Officer Alexandra Lazau-Ratz (Romania) describes how she was deployed from her posting in Bangkok to support earthquake recovery efforts in Nepal.

Cambodia Talks

National UN Volunteer Mony Pen shares his experience as a Specialist for Improving the Rights of Persons with Disabilities within the Disabilities Rights Initiative Cambodia.

Serbia Talks

Jasmin Sander (Germany) recounts her experience as a UN Volunteer Sustainable Economic Development Specialist in Serbia.

Download the full 2015 report