Helen Clark: Statement on International Volunteer Day (IVD)

Dec 5, 2015

Every year on International Volunteer Day (IVD), we recognize the invaluable contributions of volunteers to peace and development. This year, just two months after the launch of the new, universal development agenda, we promote the special role which UN Volunteers and volunteers worldwide will play in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The SDGs will guide development for the next fifteen years, offering a chance to meet the global citizenry's aspirations for a more peaceful and prosperous, and sustainable future. 

The SDGs are universal goals, applying to countries at all stages of development. This makes the point 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.

The design of these goals was influenced by people from all walks of life, including through their votes in the MY World survey on priorities for the new development agenda. This campaign incorporated more than 8.5 million people’s voices from 194 countries, and engagement was made possible by community volunteer efforts. UN Volunteers reached out to vulnerable groups in India, marginalized people living in camps in Haiti, hearing-impaired youth in Rwanda, and communities in Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Sudan, and beyond. 

Now, as we seek ways for the new agenda to take root, volunteerism can be a help in the implementation of these new goals 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.  

UNV has a strong track record of getting development results. In Kenya, UNV supported a neighborhood volunteer scheme to help ensure peaceful elections.  In India, UN Volunteers set up a programme for children with special needs. 

Today, on International Volunteer Day 2015, I want to thank all the volunteers who contributed to shaping the new development agenda, and to encourage you to continue to provide inspiration for the change the world needs. I also recognize the tremendous impact UN Volunteers are making within the UN system. In implementing the SDGs, UNDP will continue to see volunteers as catalysts for change who amplify citizens’ voices and facilitate participation so that development can be truly people-centred.

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