The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme signed a Memorandum of Understanding this week with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Speaking at the event, UNV Executive Coordinator Richard Dictus said, UNEP and UNV have an incredible opportunity to innovate through engagement of young people and create a new evidence-base for the progress of sustainable development, also by utilizing social media and new communication technologies. With this Memorandum of Understanding, our organizations forge a global partnership to enhance the visibility, the scientific understanding and the recognition of environmental issues through engaging volunteers.
About 100 UN Volunteers have served with UNEP over the past seven years, supporting the conservation, protection, enhancement and support of nature and natural resources, including biological diversity. They work within communities at the grassroots level, making them well-placed to build community resilience to climate change impacts.
Ibrahim Thiaw, Assistant-Secretary-General of the United Nations and UNEP Deputy Executive Director, said: UNEP is committed to working with the UNV programme towards enhancing an environment within which volunteerism is recognized as a significant element in the success of its programmes and activities. The UNV programme plays a pivotal role in providing much needed capacity to UN projects across the world. This agreement allows us to expand our existing fruitful collaboration in new directions to involve young people in the pursuit of sustainable development.
UN Volunteers support communities in sustainable recovery from disasters and conflicts, using natural resource and environmental management. Additionally, they integrate services and benefits derived from ecosystems in development planning. UN Volunteers, by the very nature of volunteerisms inclusiveness, advance UNEP efforts to promote the participation of communities in enhancing environmental governance and sustainability.
Youth volunteerism is also an innovative means of boosting South-South Development at the global level. A recent example of this is the Global South-South Development Expo held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 28 October to 1 November 2013. About 40 volunteers actively supported the event, providing logistic support and editorial services, reporting on the proceedings of meetings, writing summaries of round-table discussions and disseminating information using social media tools. UNV played a crucial role in mobilizing 25 UN Online Volunteers in support of the Global South-South Development Expo.
At the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, UNEP expressed interest to mobilize UN Online Volunteers for translation and data analysis assignments in the field of environment, scientific research and awareness raising. Discussions also revolved around how such collaboration could enrich the experience of UN Online Volunteers in addressing environmental challenges and help to involve young UN Online Volunteers in environmental decision making and awareness raising.
UNV and UNEP share a commitment to reaching out to youth and bringing their voice to the table. Within the framework provided by this Memorandum of Understanding, UNV and UNEP will be examining the potential for deploying UN Youth Volunteers in support of joint development activities.
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that promotes volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. Volunteerism can transform the pace and nature of development and it benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer. UNV contributes to peace and development by advocating for volunteerism globally, encouraging partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming, and mobilizing volunteers.
UNV engaged UN Volunteers on a total of 6,459 assignments in 2013. With an average age of 38 years and the requisite professional skills and qualifications of some 5 to 10 years relevant experience, UN Volunteers served in 129 countries in 2013 and came themselves from 152. The majority come from developing countries themselves. One fourth of UN Volunteers served in their own countries, with the others carrying out international assignments. The financial equivalent of programme activities exceeds US $235 million annually.
UNEP, established in 1972, is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment. UNEP work encompasses: assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends, developing international and national environmental instruments and strengthening institutions for the wise management of the environment.