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05 Dec 2014
On 5 December each year, we celebrate International Volunteer Day (IVD) in recognition of the commitment and contribution of volunteers to peace and development. This year’s theme, “Make Change Happen, Volunteer!”, emphasizes how volunteerism can advance sustainable development by fostering participation, building social cohesion, and promoting dialogue within communities. Volunteerism also acts as a catalyst for civic engagement and social inclusion.
At UNDP, we see the vital role which volunteerism plays in promoting development and peace around the world. In 2014, UN Volunteers (UNV), assigned as health and social workers, lawyers, teachers, climate change analysts, and other specialists, collaborated with UNDP on more than 1,300 projects.
From Ebola prevention campaigns in West Africa to the recent work on election arrangements in Afghanistan, UNV and UNDP are working together for development results.
To help address the Ebola outbreak, UNV launched a special recruitment effort for UN Volunteers to assist in the affected countries. Currently it has supported more than 1,000 volunteers helping in critical areas, including as health workers and sensitization on how to prevent the spread of Ebola. UNDP and UNV are working, for example, with local youth organizations in order to spread information on prevention of Ebola, such as on the importance of hand-washing and on the symptoms to look for in order to help people get early life-saving medical assistance. These national campaigns, creatively supported by street art and local language theatre, are essential for stopping the Ebola outbreak.
In this year’s Afghanistan presidential election, UNDP staff and UN Volunteers from around the world joined our Afghanistan Country Office staff and election team to advise the Independent Elections Commission of Afghanistan on vote audit procedures. This effort, supported by the action of volunteers, made it possible for the eventual election result to be regarded as credible.
On International Volunteer Day 2014, I encourage everyone to participate in volunteer action if and where they can, no matter how small, in order to make our world a better place for all its peoples.