International Volunteer Day celebration

December 5, 2022

Permanent Secretary for Youth & Sports, Mr. Rovereto Nayacalevu,
His Excellency Mr. Joseph Ma'ahanua, High Commissioner of Solomon Islands to Fiji,
Representatives of volunteer service organizations in Fiji,
International and national volunteers,
UN Colleagues,
Distinguished Guests,

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

First and foremost, I would like to thank the Permanent Secretary for opening this event by highlighting the significant contributions of volunteers to Fiji’s development and humanitarian efforts. I note that many volunteers were involved in Fiji’s response to COVID-19: from vaccination campaigns to food distribution in areas under lockdown, volunteers from across the country came together to do their part to soften the impact of this unprecedented pandemic. It is this power of our collective humanity that we are highlighting today, as we celebrate International Volunteer Day with the theme of solidarity through volunteering.

With this theme, it is very fitting that volunteers from various organizations and UN agencies have gathered here this morning to celebrate this very spirit of collaboration towards achieving the global goals, ensuring that no one is left behind. I welcome all of you this morning, as the main purpose of today’s event is to celebrate volunteers and volunteer organizations that work tirelessly to serve others. Today, the United Nations Development Programme affirms our commitment to work closely with United Nations Volunteers and civil society to build partnerships between local volunteer groups and United Nations entities, as we all work towards the people-centred implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

In 2022, a total of 75 UN Volunteers have served with 17 UN agencies in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Kiribati, and Nauru, working in a wide range of areas including digital economies, climate and disaster risk financing, women’s economic empowerment, and electoral support.

This year, UNV has focused on inclusivity, gender equality, and engaging more Pacific nationals in the work of the UN. This is exemplified in the recruitment of Elenoa Kai-sau, a Fijian woman living with a disability, as a National UN Volunteer Specialist serving as a Disability Rights Officer for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This was made possible through funding provided by SIDA (The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) for assignments exclusive for persons with disabilities, for which we are most grateful.

We are also delighted to have seven National UN Youth Volunteers from Solomon Islands join us today in person. These volunteers, who are currently serving with the Solomon Islands Electoral Office and the Office of the Registrar for Political Parties, are part of the graduate initiative launched by UNDP and UNV last year with funding support provided by the Government of Australia. They will be sharing their work and experiences as volunteers with you in one of today’s sessions.

Finally, I would like to thank each and every volunteer present here today for your service. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed, and I hope you are all as proud as we are of your contributions to Fiji, the Pacific region, and the world. So many have been helped by you because you chose to act together with others who the same spirit of volunteerism. I hope you inspire many others to do the same. 

Vinaka vakalevu and I hope you enjoy today’s celebration.