UNV Deputy Executive Coordinator Kyoko Yokosuka addressing International Volunteer Day celebrations in Mexico City, Mexico, on 5 December 2022.
UNV Deputy Executive Coordinator Kyoko Yokosuka addressing International Volunteer Day celebrations in Mexico City, Mexico, on 5 December 2022.

Speech of UNV Deputy Executive Coordinator in Mexico on the occasion of International Volunteer Day

Good afternoon,

On behalf of the United Nations Volunteers programme, I am very happy to be here in Mexico City today, on the occasion of International Volunteer Day.

Let me start by greeting our Volunteers – today is all about you and the incredible work you are doing here in Mexico.

I would also like to express our sincere thanks to the UN Resident Coordinator and other UN Country Team members for joining us today. I’d like to thank all the UN colleagues here in Mexico, for the warm welcome and your strong support to UN Volunteers and for integrating them into your teams.

Every year, we travel to different locations to celebrate International Volunteer Day. Our Executive Coordinator is in Yemen this year, because he wants to make the point of celebrating the day with volunteers working in hardship places.

I chose Mexico, because it has been one of the fastest growing countries in the world, in terms of the number of UN Volunteers, and I wanted to recognize and highlight such an impressive growth, and use this opportunity to meet and thank all the volunteers and partners, who made such an achievement possible.

I also understand that for colleagues here, this is the first time since 201, to be able to mark the day in person, due to COVID-19. So, we have many reasons to celebrate this special day.

Volunteers come from all corners of the world. They represent all age groups and cultural backgrounds. They bring diverse skills and unique experiences. You volunteers are as diverse and unique as Mexico itself.

Yet, you all have something in common: a strong desire to give back, and to contribute to the work of the UN.

  • Volunteers are those who dedicate themselves to causes big and small.
  • Volunteers are men and women without whom the world would be a different place.
  • Volunteers are the everyday champions of local action and global solidarity.

On International Volunteer Day, we pay tribute to volunteers like you across the globe. Your time and efforts make a positive impact on people’s lives.

As UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, "Through their selfless service, volunteers show the best of humanity. And their spirit of giving enriches all."

The theme of this year’s International Volunteer Day, Solidarity, is timely, as it comes amid many uncertainties, development challenges, humanitarian crises and continuing climate change. Now, more than ever, the world needs volunteers and the volunteer spirit.

I learned that in Mexico, volunteerism draws on strong cultural and historical traditions. What was seen in the aftermath of the 2017 earthquake were dedicated and selfless human efforts, on a level of what can only be described as heroic humanism.

The same can be said about the past few years: volunteers have helped prevent the worst effects of the pandemic, leaving no one behind by bringing much needed relief to those who suffered the most. Health personnel, doctors, nurses, first responders and so many others were willing to sacrifice to help those worst off. They were truly the first line of response when uncertainty and fear prevailed.

As in all other countries, Mexico greatly suffered from the pandemic, and building forward better will be a daunting challenge, addressing social, political, economic and environmental aspects.

Volunteers represent a concrete and inspiring response to these challenges. 128 UN Volunteers currently serve with 11 UN partners in Mexico. Of those, 114 are Mexicans working in and for their home country.

Like Isaac González Medina, Vanessa Cortez and José Miranda, who work with UNICEF and their government partners. As a lawyer, Isaac provides technical assistance and operational support to Protection State Agencies for Children and Adolescents. Vanessa and José are social workers who promote and protect the rights of children. Many more volunteers work in multidisciplinary teams as lawyers, social workers or psychologists, upholding children’s rights across Mexico.

In the common cause of eradicating all violence towards women and girls, we have María Agudin who supports UN Women’s activities to strengthen data collection and analysis of gender statistics globally, regionally and nationally. By promoting international standards on key and emergent topics, María helps move towards gender equality and women empowerment.

Or look at Valentine Sebile who works with OHCHR as a Human Rights Officer. She monitors the human rights situation and provides technical assistance to the government and other stakeholders to promote national capacity building and to help protect human rights for all.

In the face of the migration crisis, we very much appreciate the work of Carlo Giordano in Monterrey, or Maria Saranti here in Mexico City, as Associate Programme Officers with UNHCR, who support the humanitarian response to save lives and foster human rights for people on the move. UN Volunteers serve in the northern and southern border areas, being, in many cases, the first hand to provide humanitarian aid and support.

All over the world, we have had over 12,000 UN Volunteers supporting our UN partners this year. The number keeps growing, reflecting the ever-increasing demands from our UN partners for committed, talented and motivated global citizens to join the UN workforce.

I am truly inspired by all these accomplishments. They are, indeed, inspiration in action to us all.

In conclusion, I wanted to say that International Volunteer Day 2022 is a celebration, an invitation and a reminder.

We celebrate volunteers and their commitment. We celebrate your passion and work, and your contribution to Mexico’s development and peace. We are proud of your achievements and dedicated service with our UN partners.

We invite all others to recognize the contribution of our volunteers and to empower them. We invite others to volunteer for the cause they have close to their heart, to help their communities prosper and rise with dignity.

And we remind ourselves that for volunteers – and for the world – the only way forward is in solidarity.

Today is your day - UN Volunteers and volunteers all over Mexico and the globe. I wish you a very happy International Volunteer Day.

Thank you!