UNV Annual Report 2020



UNV Executive Coordinator Toily Kurbanov addresses youth audience in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (UNV, 2020)

Dear reader.

Because of the global pandemic, in 2020, I met fewer UN Volunteers than before. Yet, in 2020, I was most inspired by them and their critical role for the UN and in communities around the world. This report gives you a panoramic view of the achievements of UN Volunteers during the year.

On pages 2-5, you will read about UN Volunteers’ contributions to COVID-19 response. Whether as frontline workers or online experts, they helped safeguard health in their communities.

The report, on pages 6-10, also tells the broader story of UN Volunteers supporting peace and development. This includes hard work to improve gender equality and a more inclusive UN

One of UNV’s priorities is the global promotion of volunteerism under the 2030 Agenda. On pages 11-14, you will find the examples of UNV advocacy, partnerships and research work in this area.

Finally, “in God we trust, but all others must bring data”. Check out the annexes for detailed financial and statistical information.

The real authors and protagonists of this annual report are manifold:

Thank you, UN Volunteers, for being inspiration in action. You stepped up and stepped forward during the pandemic

Thank you, UN partners around the world. You empowered UN Volunteers and enabled their results.

Thank you, governments, and other partners. Your confidence in UNV, guidance and contributions gave us strength.

And to all UNV staff: your talents, hard work and dedication shone through in 2020 and made things work; thank you.

Toily Kurbanov, Executive Coordinator

UNV facts and figures 2020

9,459UN Volunteers
on the ground
were hosted by UN entities
from over 100
different professions
in 158 countries of assignment
and, as Online Volunteers,
virtually worldwide
served with 60
United Nations
Partners worldwide
UN Volunteers were from 168
82 %
From the Global South
56 % national
UN Volunteers
35 % of UN Volunteers on-site were under the age of 29
52 %UN Volunteers on-site were women
68,173Online Volunteer applications

UN Volunteers response to COVID-19

In 2020, over
1,000 UN Volunteers directly supported the United Nations' response to COVID-19 in 105 countries

85 %were national
UN Volunteers
54 %were women
Countering COVID-19

COVID-19 presented unprecedented challenges in 2020. Partners turned to UNV to help scale up preparedness and response efforts and enhance local capacity. By year end, UNV mobilized over 1,000 volunteers in 105 countries to serve with 26 entities on COVID-related assignments. Of these, 85 per cent were national UN Volunteers, and 54 per cent were women.

Online volunteering opportunities increased, with United Nations entities putting forward a total of 1,240 online assignments. Of these, 320 were focused on COVID-19. UNV's worldwide reach to highly motivated professionals unlocked significant capacity for partners and resulted in unprecedented online volunteer engagement

An integral member of the United Nations family, UNV invested US $2 million from its Special Voluntary Fund (SVF) to rapidly deploy national UN Volunteers and strengthen system-wide action on COVID-19. In 2020, 83 UN Volunteers were deployed to support inter-agency coordination, joint programmes, and the public health response around the globe.

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Volunteer solutions for a changing world

UNV saw increased demand for mobilization of volunteers and deployed 9,459 volunteers to 60 UN entities. For the first time in UNV's history, the number of national UN Volunteers exceeded that of international UN Volunteers by 12 per cent.

In 2020, UNV fielded 902 UN Community Volunteers and 281 UN Expert Volunteers, a testimony to the adaptability of the new volunteer categories and the experience and perspectives they offer. Furthermore, the organization engaged 88 UN Volunteers with disabilities. The number of candidates self-reporting disabilities in UNV's global talent pool increased by 38 per cent to 4,590.

In 2020, women represented 52 per cent of all volunteers, yet more work is needed to ensure consistent representation across the regions. For the first time in the history of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, 30 national UN Youth Volunteers, all women, were mobilized and incorporated the voices and needs of women into the mission's work.

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Promoting volunteerism

UNV continued to be a powerful advocate for volunteerism and civic engagement in peace and development. Valued contributions from partners to the Special Voluntary Fund were dedicated in part to volunteerism research and advocacy, system-wide action on volunteering, rapid response and innovative solutions.

UNV and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies convened a virtual Global Technical Meeting, mandated through the Plan of Action to Integrate Volunteering. The online event brought together 70 speakers from nearly 60 countries and over 4,000 participants. This collective engagement culminated in a call to action on volunteering in the Decade of Action.

Eleven Member States called on UNV for technical support to embed volunteering principles in national strategies. On the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, UNV launched a joint publication with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, featuring three case studies on South-South volunteerism from Cambodia, China and Thailand.

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Volunteers through partnerships

UNV thanks its UN Member State partners for their generous contributions in support of volunteerism for sustainable development and peace.

UN Member States are listed by magnitude of contributions received in 2020.

* Amounts indicated are in thousands of US dollars