International Volunteer Day Address by UN Resident CoordinatorDec 3, 2015
On International Volunteer Day, we pay special tribute to volunteers worldwide and here in Ghana. This year we want to express appreciation in particular to those who are already working to advocate for and begin implementation of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, with its 17 goals covering social, economic and environmental development. To quote UNDP Administrator Helen Clark: “As we seek ways for the new agenda to take root, volunteerism can be a help in the implementation of the SDGs by reaching those who are marginalized and engaging people who may otherwise not have a chance to make a difference in their communities. In this way volunteers can embody the underlying principle of the goals to leave no one behind.
The UN General Assembly has recently approved a resolution on volunteerism that recognizes that volunteerism can be a powerful means of implementation for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and that includes a plan of action to integrate volunteering in peace and development.
In his statement on International Volunteer Day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the newly adopted SDGs offer an opportunity for individuals to show solidarity through volunteerism, and I am honored to read out his full statement:
On this day we celebrate the power of volunteerism. Volunteering fosters creativity, draws strength from our passions and connects us to those who need us most.
Volunteerism is a global phenomenon that transcends boundaries, religions and cultural divides. Volunteers embody the fundamental values of commitment, inclusiveness, civic engagement and a sense of solidarity.
During the Ebola crisis in West Africa, community volunteers, international volunteers and United Nations Volunteers were crucial to the response. A similar spirit of volunteerism and solidarity has been on display in addressing the current refugee crisis and this year’s devastating earthquake in Nepal.
The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals offer another opportunity for individuals to show solidarity through volunteerism. All of us can contribute to realizing the 2030 Agenda’s vision of ending poverty.
Today, on International Volunteer Day, I thank the more than 6,300 United Nations Volunteers and 11,000 United Nations Online Volunteers who help millions of people to make sustainable change and peace happen. I also commend and salute the one billion community volunteers worldwide.
As we mark International Volunteer Day, let us strive to make the most of the power of volunteerism to build a more sustainable world and a life of dignity for all.
The SDGs are universal goals, applying to countries of all stages of development. This means that sustainable development in the 21st century isn’t something which happens to somebody else, somewhere else. We all have a stake in it – and every country has work to do to progress towards it.
I would like to thank the seven UN volunteers, and all the other volunteers currently serving in Ghana, for all of their contributions to development. I also want to thank Hannah Ghanson of UNV and the Deputy Minister and colleagues in the Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Protection for providing us this opportunity, on International Volunteer Day, to thank the many individuals who act with this spirit of giving, and to encourage others to follow their example. Let us be inspired by the many individuals who selflessly serve others.