In his opening statement, Mr Tegegnework Gettu, UNDP Associate Administrator, stated that volunteerism was strongly linked to the SDGs, as it was a cross-cutting issue. He emphasized that UNV – through this new SF – would help UNDP deliver on the 2030 Agenda. Mr Gettu noted that he was thoroughly impressed by the UN Volunteers that he had met in the field (read his full remarks.)
I have been thoroughly impressed by the individuals I have met during my career who volunteer their time and expertise as UN Volunteers. I would like to thank all UN Volunteers carrying out assignments, not only for UNDP, but for over 30 partners in the UN often serving in challenging and remote locations.” - Mr Tegegnework Gettu, UNDP Associate Administrator.
This was followed by the presentation of UNV’s Strategic Framework 2018-2021 by the Executive Coordinator Mr Oliver Adam. Mr Adam thanked the Member States for engaging in the highly consultative process through the Executive Board in developing the new framework. He also noted that through its transformation, UNV was UN-reform ready and fit for purpose (read his full remarks.)
UNV is more focused than ever on supporting national capacity development through volunteerism. Focusing clearly on our niche of volunteer advisory services, we will work at the country level to support national policies, legislation and volunteer schemes that can sustainably build national capacities, skills and institutions. UNV will deliver volunteer solutions for SDG implementation with UN partners – with an emphasis on South-South cooperation […] UNV’s volunteer solutions, will also help the UN system’s push for gender equality and the inclusion of people with disabilities.” – Mr Olivier Adam, UNV Executive Coordinator.
Mr Adam thanked the UN Volunteers around the globe – online and onsite – describing them as true inspiration in action. He highlighted that with over 80 per cent of UN Volunteers coming from the global South, UNV is a vehicle for South-South cooperation and facilitates expertise and knowledge transfer across local contexts, as well as online.
Statements followed from fifteen UN Member States. The Republic of Korea appreciated UNV’s focus on building national capacity, and Germany stated that it is very proud to host UNV in Bonn. Cambodia commended UNV for its excellent job as the spirit of volunteerism is crucially important, and Lao PDR called for partners to increase their contributions to the Special Voluntary Fund. The Russian Federation expressed appreciation for UNV’s volunteer mobilizing efforts, and France thanked UN Volunteers who work across the whole UN system. Kenya asked UNV to put a greater emphasis on volunteer assignments in the field of food security, and health care and Bangladesh thanked UNV for the support during the Rohingya crises. Brazil encouraged UNV to further promote South-South Cooperation, and Switzerland welcomed that UNV contributes to the six areas of the common chapter of the Strategic Plans of UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women. China appreciated UNV’s work on women and children, and Nepal underlined the role of volunteerism in mobilizing societies. Thailand asked UNV for further possibilities of training and capacity building within the country, and Japan underlined the importance of the upcoming resolution on volunteerism in the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly. Australia appreciated that UNV promotes a smarter, more nimble and innovative UN and puts a human face on a human centred agenda.
Jill Osborn, UNICEF Chief of Staffing and Mobility (ad interim), underlined UNICEF’s appreciation for its partnership with UNV and highlighted the dedication and hard work of UN Volunteers who serve with UNICEF.
Currently, UNVs support UNICEF in 73 countries with a range of tasks. The diversity of volunteers is very valuable to UNICEF and this is also mirrored in the new Strategic Framework […] During 2017, 350 UN Volunteers served with UNICEF, two-thirds of them national volunteers and 55% of them women.”
Ms Osborn thanked UNV for the good collaboration on the joint UNICEF Youth Advocate Programme. Within the framework of the initiative, 50 youth volunteers between the ages of 18-24 years will be deployed in UNICEF country offices to be agents of change in supporting the implementation of UNICEF’s Strategic Plan 2018-2021. These young people will bring their voices to the UN and the focus is to engage women, people with disabilities and indigenous people as youth advocates through the programme.
Ms Rohini Swaminathan (India), a UN Volunteer GIS Specialist deployed with UNDP in New York, shared her experience working with colleagues and partners from around the world.
I could not be more excited to continue my journey as a UN Volunteer this year. South-South Cooperation is not only a priority in the Strategic Framework […] In essence, it improves our work and delivery for our partners. I thank UNV for transforming South-South Cooperation into a reality and making achieving the Global Goals a possibility.”