Helen Clark: International Volunteer Day (IVD)

Dec 5, 2012

Statement by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, Helen Clark, on the occasion of
International Volunteer Day (IVD)
5 December, 2012

Today, on International Volunteer Day 2012, we celebrate the commitment that volunteers bring to making the world a better place, and the impact they have.

Every year, hundreds of millions of people around the world volunteer their time and effort to help others.  The core values of volunteerism – striving for the common good in a spirit of solidarity and without expecting material reward - are shared universally across cultures, languages, and religions.

Volunteerism also has a broad transformational impact on societies and on the individuals involved.  As  volunteers share their skills and time to help others, they also benefit from gaining a stronger sense of belonging and contributing to the community.  This places volunteers and volunteer organizations at the heart of active and healthy societies worldwide. 

At UNDP, we have seen how the work of volunteers - teachers, health workers, social workers, community activists, relief workers, and agriculturalists to name just a few – has made a significant impact.  We see an active and healthy civil society as critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and sustaining development progress.

Today we also recognize the efforts of over 7,700 United Nations Volunteers (UNV) who currently support UN work in conflict prevention and post-conflict recovery, sustainable development, delivery of basic services, crisis prevention, environment and climate change, and social inclusion projects. These UNVs are at the forefront of development and peace efforts, reaching the most disadvantaged communities and emphasizing community-based solutions.  We at UNDP recognize the important role of volunteerism and are committed to include the contribution of volunteers in our strategies.

On International Volunteer Day, we are reminded that the values of self-help, mutual aid and the common good, so embedded in volunteerism, are also critical to establishing and maintaining development which is truly sustainable. This year at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, we reaffirmed our commitment to development that does not compromise the needs of future generations. 

Today, on International Volunteer Day 2012, I call for volunteerism to be thoroughly integrated into efforts to achieve the MDGs and to define the post-2015 global development agenda. 

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