Mr Olivier Adam, UNV Executive Coordinator (far right), and Mr Alan AtKisson, Head of the Department for Partnerships, Sida (on screen), and their teams discuss the partnership between UNV and Sweden.
Mr Olivier Adam, UNV Executive Coordinator (far right), and Mr Alan AtKisson, Head of the Department for Partnerships, Sida (on screen), and their teams discuss the partnership between UNV and Sweden.

UNV-Sweden partnership poised to deliver strong results

The Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, Mr Olivier Adam, met today with Mr Alan AtKisson, Head of the Sida Department for Partnerships, Government of Sweden for the annual Sida-UNV strategic dialogue. Both sides expressed their commitment and interest in deepening and strengthening this long-standing partnership. A steadfast partner of UNV, Sweden has been providing UNV with political and financial support, including through sponsoring UN Volunteer assignments to advance progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNV and Sida have been partnering in support of peace, humanitarian and sustainable development for many years. In 2018, they renewed their partnership, in line with Sida’s Strategy for Capacity Development, Partnerships and Methods Supporting Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, (2018-2022). One of the objectives of this strategy is to broaden the Swedish resource base for implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  

We really appreciate UNV as a flexible and efficient partner, especially when it comes to innovative and inclusive solutions: such as the UNDP-UNV Talent Programme for Young Professionals with Disabilities; and the special Midwife initiative that we have co-created with UNV, UNFPA and WHO. We also commend UNV’s ability to rapidly adjust and provide support to Member States and UN partners in the global COVID-19 response. COVID-19 has again showcased the importance of the UN to have access to flexible resources that allow for rapid response in times of need. --Alan AtKisson, Head of the Department for Partnerships, Sida

In 2019, Sida was UNV’s third largest donor, contributing a total of US $3,209 million. It was also the second largest donor to the UNV Special Voluntary Fund (US $957,000), providing flexible non-earmarked resources to UNV, and the Full Funding Programme (US $2,251 million), sponsoring UN Volunteer assignments, as captured in UNV’s Annual Report 2019.

During the recent session of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board in early September, Sweden thanked UNV for its flexibility and ability to adjust during the COVID-19 pandemic and confirmed its longstanding partnership with the organization. In addition, the representative of Sweden announced that Sida would be advancing the payment of its 2021 contribution to the UNV Special Voluntary Fund and providing an additional allocation, in response to UNV’s call for further financial support in the context of COVID-19.

Mr Adam expressed his deep appreciation of the strong partnership UNV enjoys with Sweden.

I thank Sweden for its continued engagement and open dialogue. We had a very useful exchange on how both organizations are adapting to this fast-changing world, including through innovation and the use of new technologies such as AI, to scale up our support to the implementation of the SDGs. --Olivier Adam, UNV Executive Coordinator  

Sweden, through Sida, also partners with UNV on the deployment of UN Volunteers through assignments it funds. In 2020, this includes 25 new UN Youth Volunteer assignments. These volunteers are serving in areas related to environment, climate change and the sustainable use of natural resources, gender equality, women’s empowerment and inclusive economic development.

In 2020, the international year of midwives and nurses, Sida is also funding specialist assignments for Swedish nationals: five UN Volunteer Midwives with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and World Health Organization (WHO), as well as another five specialists supporting the COVID-19 response. Numerous other volunteers are supporting the COVID-19 through their assignments. In Thailand, for example, Fanny Arendt from Sweden, serves as a UN Volunteer Programme Analyst for Governance, Peace and Security with the UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Thailand, addressing the vulnerability of women in the COVID-19 crisis.

In 2019, 99 Swedish nationals served as UN Volunteers. Of these, 88 UN Youth Volunteers were funded by Sida. Volunteers from Sweden have shared their experiences on UNV’s website, including Ms Ulrika Modeer, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy. Ms Modeer served as a UN Volunteer in Guatemala in the late 1990s, in the aftermath of the civil war, and reflects, “volunteerism connects us to our purpose".

One area of the partnership that has been growing since 2019 is the support of Sweden to the mobilization of UN Volunteers with disabilities. At the recent Executive Board meeting, Sweden commended UNV for its efficiency in finding new and more inclusive solutions, highlighting the UNDP/UNV Talent Programme for Young Professionals with Disabilities. Under this programme, Sida is funding three assignments for Swedish nationals, in addition to 17 assignments for national UN Volunteers in 16 partner countries in the global South to support national capacity building.

One of these volunteers is Pelgrina Ndumba, a national UN Volunteer under the Talent Programme. Pelgrina is visually impaired and serves with UNDP in her home country, Namibia, working on the rights of persons with disabilities. "Disability does not mean inability," she says, as she works to change mindsets in her home country.

In July 2020, the Swedish government presented a report at the High-Level Political Forum outlining Sweden’s work on the ‘Leave no one behind’ principle of the 2030 Agenda, and how it is stepping up its efforts in this regard in its pursuit of the Global Goals.  This common pledge provides additional opportunities for synergies between the two partners, paving the way for further expansion of our partnership.