01 December 2008
International Volunteer Day 2008 will be celebrated this year in Haiti in the city of Gonaïves around the theme: 'Environment protection and disaster management and preparedness'. (M. Rizzolio/UNV)"Online volunteering expands social inclusion and contributes in a very tangible way to the work of development organizations," says UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri in her statement for IVD. (UNV)Bonn, Germany:
Volunteers and volunteer-involving organizations around the world are gearing up to celebrate International Volunteer Day on 5 December, an opportunity to recognize the contribution of volunteerism to peace and development.
The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (IVD) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution A/RES/40/212 on 17 December 1985. Since then volunteers and volunteer-involving organizations have joined with governments, NGOs, UN agencies and other partners to celebrate volunteerism and lay the ground for future activities.
In his message for IVD 2008, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon notes that volunteerism is "a potentially vast and powerful resource to engage people in the pursuit of peace and development". Every individual can make a difference, he says, urging "all members of our global community to tap this great reserve of energy and initiative".
This year is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In his own IVD message, UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis pays tribute to the work of UNV volunteers, who "ensure that governance is grounded in the principles of human rights, access to justice, inclusion and gender equality."
In the light of this year's financial slowdown and the global food and fuel crises, Mr. Dervis also remarks on the power of volunteerism to make a difference. "Volunteers enable communities to generate their own solutions to development challenges, in partnership with governments and development organizations," he says.
Linking the "shared interest in supporting each other's struggles and successes" highlighted by the global economic crisis with the "connectedness" of the Internet, UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri testifies to the power of online volunteering. This year, the UNV Online Volunteering service is launching a redesigned and more easily accessible multilingual website. The site is now set up to match more volunteers with the development organizations that need them than ever before (click here to read related article).
Ms. Pansieri also notes that 2011 will mark the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers in 2001, and encourages volunteer-involving organizations to take this chance to advance their work in volunteerism. "Let us expand recognition of the action of volunteers and encourage their engagement in order to help countries reach the Millennium Development Goals," she adds.
Activities to mark IVD are planned across the planet. In Haiti, which was devastated by a series of hurricanes earlier this year, UNV and its partners are rehabilitating a damaged school and a organizing a disaster preparedness event. In Indonesia, national UNV volunteers will help young people in East Kalimantan learn about ecosystems and plant new mangroves.
UNV in Kazakhstan is gathering volunteers to give 'clown therapy' to children in orphanages and hospitals. And in Uganda, UNV and partners are putting together a week-long series of events, culminating in an award ceremony for the volunteers of the year.
Organizations celebrating IVD are encouraged to share information with World Volunteer Web (firstname.lastname@example.org): to read more about events worldwide, click here for the IVD pages on World Volunteer Web.
Download the statements in PDF format (requires Adobe Acrobat reader).
Statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Statement by UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis
Statement by UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri