“The UN could not deploy, and Security Council mandates could not be delivered, without UN Volunteers,” said Olivier Adam, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme Executive Coordinator, recounting UNV’s value proposition in the words of UN partners, the Department of Field Support (DFS) and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), as he led a side event to the meeting of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) on 2 February, 2017 at UN Headquarters. Member States acknowledged this positive affirmation of UNV’s critical role in peacekeeping.
Mr. Adam and Dominic Allen, Chief of the UNV Office in New York, presented the roadmap to the UNV Strategic Framework 2018-21 to Member States informing them of its context, strategic considerations, lessons learned from the first Strategic Framework, and the process and timeline.
Mr. Adam highlighted UNV’s unique mandate in offering people around the world the possibility to engage with three pillars of the United Nations – promoting development, ensuring equality to delivering humanitarian assistance and building peace – all through voluntary action.
The main purpose of the briefing was to introduce Members States to the proposed SF roadmap – an ongoing independent consultative engagement process throughout the year. This first discussion focused on several aspects including an evaluation of the present SF 2014-17, the context for development of the new SF and strategic considerations based on UNV’s business model.
The presentation on the SF 2018-21 focused on UNV and its added value – serving as a bridge between the UN, governments and civil society for almost half of a century -- its organizational transformation from 2014 onwards and its close alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as stated in Agenda 2030. Mr. Adam noted, “UNV was instrumental in the consultation process that led to the SDGs. Our field presence can be key to achieving these goals.”
The guiding documents for UNV underscore the necessity to do things differently in response to an evolving peace, humanitarian and development landscape – most importantly the need for inclusive and coordinated approaches to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce exclusion, address inequalities and deliver a life of dignity for all. Additionally, the proposed SF stakeholder engagement plan ensures a stronger base for partnership and collaboration between UNV and Member States, and continued dialogue with existing and potential new partners in order to deliver on UNV’s result areas.
“Leaving no one behind is at the heart of what UN Volunteers are doing in the field,” said Mr. Adam while emphasizing the collaborative support of Member States, civil society, private sector and academia to position volunteerism as a necessary component for the successful attainment of Agenda 2030.
Lessons learned from the Executive Board meeting in June 2016 were brought forth in this briefing – the need for innovative thinking and pioneering solutions for peace and sustainable development that include corporate and online volunteering, and private sector engagement to leverage peace and development results, while encouraging further engagement of Member States and non-state actors.
Member States put a lot of emphasis on the recently adopted Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) and the need for coherence across the UN system, lessons learned from the implementation of the first Strategic Framework 2014-17, UNV being very well positioned in innovation, including with the private sector and online volunteering, and the critical role volunteers play in SDG implementation and peacebuilding, and its successful engagement of youth volunteers.
UNV was also commended on its efforts in South-South Cooperation due to the large number of volunteers from the Global South, and for their being very balanced among development, peace and humanitarian areas. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) gave a positive review of its working relationship with UN volunteers on the field. Thirteen interventions were made, including by programme country and donor partners, UNFPA and a UN Volunteer from Sri Lanka, who gave a personal story of her experience in UNV and thanked Member States for making it possible.
The theme of the Strategic Framework and its consultative process throughout the year is to adapt UNV’s priorities to the changing priorities of our partners including Member States and UN partners. Hence the stakeholder engagement process will address opportunities to form stronger alliances and partnerships.
Member States readily received the roadmap and expressed a desire to continue to be engaged in participatory consultation towards the Strategic Framework process. An informal consultation will be held in March 2017.
Among the attendees were UN agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as well as UNV, represented by our EC, UNV ONY, the Regional Office in Senegal and a national UN Youth Volunteer from WHO in Sri Lanka; Member States, including Finland, France, China, Pakistan, Kenya, Ireland, Republic of Korea, Belgium, Libya, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Samoa, Brazil, Sweden, Panama, Denmark, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Japan, Russia, Philippines; and other stakeholders, including representatives from the International Federation of the Red Cross, the Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation, the International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges (IAAI), and local volunteers from the United States.