UN Volunteer, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Norah Ngeny (Kenya) and her colleague discuss eco-tourism opportunities, Savannakhet, Lao PDR.
UN Volunteer, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Norah Ngeny (Kenya) and her colleague discuss eco-tourism opportunities, Savannakhet, Lao PDR.

Advancing South-South Cooperation through UN Volunteers

As the volunteer arm of the United Nations, UNV furthers South-South cooperation through its partnerships with development partners and United Nations entities. It brings people from the South together to find solutions to development challenges through exchange and transfer of skills, knowledge and good practices.

South-South Cooperation is embedded in UNV’s Strategic Framework 2018-2021. Working closely with partners, UNV facilitates South-South cooperation by deploying UN Volunteers and promoting the value of volunteerism for peace and development.

Volunteering and South-South Cooperation share common ideals that make them perfect partners: solidarity, respect and equality. Both have an opportunity to derive mutual benefit from their alliance. --UNV Executive Coordinator Olivier Adam

Since 2017, UNV and the Beijing Volunteer Service Federation (BVF) are implementing the project Strengthening China’s Involvement in the Development of International Volunteer Service through South-South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative.

From 2006-2016, UNV deployed UN Volunteers through the Asia Youth Volunteer Exchange Programme to exchange knowledge, skills and capacity-building among countries of the global South, particularly African and Asian countries, in the fields of sustainable agriculture and private sector development.

South-South volunteering

UNV deploys UN Volunteers with partner UN entities to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They do so by delivering services, transferring skills, and localizing ownership, while ensuring participatory approaches to development and modelling sustainable behavioural changes.

In 2017, 83 per cent of UN Volunteers were from the Global South. Through the story of UN Volunteer Patrick Newton (Ghana) we find out how South-South volunteering builds management skills in Mozambique and Brazil.

UNV’s Online Volunteering service also fosters South-South exchanges through the mobilization of volunteers from the Global South to contribute to peace and development.

In 2017, 70 per cent of UN Online Volunteers came from developing countries, directly supporting non-governmental organizations, public institutions and UN entities operating in the Global South, contributing to South-South development.

Volunteer infrastructure

UNV has developed considerable knowledge and expertise in volunteer infrastructure, including the development of volunteer programmes and volunteer recruitment and management.

UNV partnered with UN Member States and regional bodies to initiate and strengthen national and regional volunteer schemes in 18 countries/regions in Angola, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Comoro Islands, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Kenya, Malawi, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

One example of UNV’s long-standing success in volunteer infrastructure has been its partnership with the Economic Community of West Africa States on its Volunteer Programme in West Africa. With UNV’s technical assistance, three pilot ECOWAS countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) benefited from youth volunteering in vital sectors such as education, health and youth.

Building on this, UNV is currently supporting the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in establishing a Graduate Youth Internship and Volunteer programme in pilot countries including the Union of the Comoros, Egypt, Ethiopia and Zambia. The COMESA Secretariat will play the critical role of administration and coordination, while UNV will provide technical support to the programme.

In Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Guatemala, UNV implemented the Youth for the SDGs initiative (Jóvenes por los ODS), with more than 27,000 youth participating in positioning youth as agents of change within their communities.

In India, UNV partnered with UNDP and the Government of India on a joint youth volunteering project to strengthen one of the largest youth volunteering schemes in the world, the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan and National Service Scheme.

Building a body of evidence

UNV collaborates with national, regional and global partners to present new evidence on the role of volunteerism for peace and development. 

In mid-2018, UNV launched the third State of the World’s Volunteer Report, The thread that binds, with a focus on volunteerism in community resilience.

UNV also published two thematic papers for the on the scale and scope of volunteering globally and volunteerism laws and policies since 2001.