Since 1976, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) has been partnering with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme to encourage the development of human settlements, urbanization, and sustainable communities. Over the past ten years, 224 UN Volunteers have served with UN-Habitat in 35 countries, supporting UN-Habitat’s mission to “promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all”.
George Gachie, Kenya National UN Volunteer walks past a water vendor at the project site for the UN-Habitat Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP) in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya. (UNV, 2016)
UN Volunteers are experienced personnel available to support UN Habitat’s mandate. They work within communities at the grassroots-level, making them well-placed to launch participatory approaches to urban planning and build community resilience to climate change impacts. UN Volunteers advance UN-Habitat’s efforts to promote community and civil society participation in urban planning, disaster risk reduction and rehabilitation. This includes a focus on advancing gender equality and enhancing youth employability.
The United Nations Volunteer programme continues to play a key role in supporting and advancing UN-Habitat’s work worldwide. I am very grateful for the valuable contribution and dedication of UN Volunteers to UN-Habitat and their continuous commitment to promote the United Nations’ values, the implementation of SDG 11 and the Action Framework for Implementation of the New Urban Agenda (AFINUA). —Dr Joan Clos, former Executive Director, UN-Habitat
UN Volunteers are skilled specialists, fulfilling needs for international and national personnel within UN-Habitat’s projects. The partnership has benefitted a number of projects including the rebuilding of Haiti’s infrastructures after the devastating earthquake of 2010, integrating sustainable city planning advancements in Palestine, and engaging youth to act within their communities as leaders for health and environmental initiatives.
Cooperation began between UN-Habitat (formerly known as UNCHS) and UNV in the first half of 1976 when three UN Volunteers from Norway, USA, and Sudan, took up their assignment as Architects and Quantity Surveyor in a project of institutional support to the Ministry of Public Works in the Yemen Arab Republic. Today, UN Volunteers continue to serve UN Habitat by building community resilience to climate change, enhancing inclusive participation and engagement of civil society, and securing access to basic social services. They also prepare young people for the workforce, increase their employability and advance gender equality.