Engaging partners in promoting inclusion through volunteerism

On Human Solidarity Day, UNV recognizes new partners placing their trust in UNV. These include non-traditional partners exploring avenues to advance volunteerism for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In 1971, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme deployed its first 35 UN Volunteers to serve in Chad, Bangladesh and Yemen with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Two years later, in 1973, the number grew to 93 UN Volunteers serving for the International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and FAO.  Since then, UNV has worked with UN Member States and other partners to include volunteers in their development processes.

Growth in volunteer numbers continued steadily over the years. Since January 2019, UNV has deployed 8,153 UN Volunteers with more than 40 partners and in over 140 countries and territories. This is a significant increase in numbers, but also in inclusion.

Today, over 80 per cent of the UNV volunteers come from the global South. We have supported the deployment of an increasing number of national UN Volunteers, representing 49 per cent of the total. For the first time this year, UNV reached full gender parity in its UN Volunteer assignments, with women filling 50 per cent of all UN Volunteer assignments. About 11 per cent of UN Volunteers serve under the youth category.

UNV also continues to close the gap that hinders the participation of persons with disabilities in the work of the UN. Through the Talent Programme for Young Professionals with Disabilities, a partnership of UNV and UNDP, as well as regular assignments, 31 UN Volunteers with disabilities have been deployed with the UN globally this year. Like in 1971, UNV is breaking barriers to include all voices in sustainable development and leave no one behind.

UNV has been able to achieve these outstanding results thanks to the strong support from UN entities who host talented UN Volunteers, as well as from UN Member States, who support the organization financially.  

UNV continues to expand its partner base, aiming to engage more Member States and partners in promoting volunteerism for sustainable development.

In the past few years, contributions to UNV's Special Voluntary Fund (SVF) and Full Funding programme have expanded and many non-traditional funding partners, including Bangladesh, China, India, Kazakhstan, Russia and Thailand, have placed their trust in UNV.

UN Volunteer Obstetrics and Gynaecology Specialist Bakura Pagi (India) served at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi in 2017. She provided essential medical services and mentored national health practitioners to transfer skills and contribute to the sustainability of the health sector in the country. (Eldson Chagara/UNV, 2017)

Twenty-four qualified UN Volunteers were sponsored by the Government of the People's Republic of China (including partners in Beijing and Hong Kong SAR), fostering South-South Cooperation through knowledge-sharing in their fields of professional expertise.

Another 19 UN Volunteers were deployed through a partnership with the Government of the Russian Federation to support UN partners in Asia, Europe and Africa.

Through an unprecedented programme with the King Mongkut University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) in Thailand, five UN Volunteers served in neighbouring countries in South-East Asia.

Just recently, UNV signed new partnership agreements with the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, to deploy UN Volunteers globally, and with the Mount Kenya University, to deploy national UN Volunteers to support the work of the UN in the country.

These partnerships, and many others that are being brokered around the globe, aim at fostering inclusion and engaging nationals from underrepresented countries in the UN, while also bringing new perspectives to address development challenges in the countries where these volunteers are assigned. This is a true expression of human solidarity in action.