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Media release: Organizations worldwide join efforts to boost volunteerism
03 December 2010

Bonn, Germany: Today, on the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (IVD), international volunteer-based organizations around the world launch a year-long campaign aimed at better understanding, promoting and supporting volunteerism. Annually, the volunteer sector contributes US$ 400 billion to the global economy, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies. But this contribution often goes unnoticed.

This year, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme and more than 40 international volunteer-based organizations, have come together to claim recognition for volunteers during the upcoming tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10) in 2011. The Year will culminate in two United Nations General Assembly Sessions dedicated to volunteerism in December 2011 and the release of the first-ever report on the State of the World’s Volunteerism.

"With the right support and infrastructure, volunteer efforts are a true complementary component of any institutional peace, development and humanitarian effort", says Ms. Flavia Pansieri, UNV Executive Coordinator from Colombia where she launches the effort. Meanwhile, Naheed Haque, Deputy Executive Coordinator launches IYV+10 in Nepal during a National Conference on Volunteering for the Millennium Development Goals.

"Volunteers take action in many areas and in all societies. Volunteers don’t wait for others to solve their problems for them; they engage with their own knowledge and capacities and play an essential role as active citizens shaping their societies," says Ms Flavia Pansieri, Executive Coordinator of UNV.

Dr Kang-Hyun Lee, President of the International Association of Volunteer Effort (IAVE), says, "Volunteering is a fundamental building block of civil society. It brings to life the noblest aspirations of humankind – the pursuit of peace, freedom, opportunity, safety, and justice for all people".

"For this international year, we’re focusing on what really matters: protecting volunteers, promoting the work they’re doing, and recognizing the real impact they have on communities across the globe", says Ms Geri Lau, the Head of Youth and Volunteering Development at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

In marking this year, volunteer-based organizations not only aim at promoting and recognizing the diversity of volunteerism initiatives worldwide, but also calling on governments, UN entities and civil society actors to engage in creating an enabling environment to support volunteerism.

Volunteers of all ages, backgrounds and origins are recognized for their contributions today and during the entire coming year. Celebrations and events to mark the anniversary will be organized around the globe, such as the 21st IAVE World Volunteer Conference in January 2011 and the Global Volunteering Summit in Kenya in June 2011, to be organized through a tripartite partnership of UNV, IFRC and IAVE.

"This year is an opportunity to focus the world’s attention on the positive added value volunteers provide to governments and societies across the globe", says UNV Executive Coordinator, Flavia Pansieri.

For further information, contact:
Simona Costanzo Sow, Project Manager IYV+10

About UNV: The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that promotes volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. Volunteerism can transform the pace of 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 volunteers work in more than 130 countries around the world. Last year, 7,545 UNV volunteers from 154 countries contributed their skills towards to the work of 20 United Nations organizations, 17 UN Missions, and many local institutions.

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