Statement by Mr Silberberg, Head of Economic Department, at the Executive Board of UNDP on UNV

Jun 14, 2011

Mister President,

This year marks the European Year of Volunteerism and the tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers.

It is acknowledged worldwide that volunteering empowers people to actively take part in development activities, to take responsibility for the needs of others, and to make an impact in their own lives. Volunteering is a genuine human value. By building partnerships, intentional and well-supported grassroots and community-centered volunteering can provide solutions and results. However, there is lot to be done to allow volunteering to reach its full potential.

The German Government has therefore taken steps in order to better support the idea of volunteering in international development initiatives. We have created a volunteer programme, called ‘weltwärts’ targeting young people aged between 18 and 28. The programme, which was launched in 2008, will gradually be expanded to allow up to 10,000 young people to participate every year, allowing them to contribute to development activities worldwide. A central criterion in selecting participants is their willingness to engage in volunteering initiatives beyond the programme upon their return to Germany.

Following this approach, we appreciate that UNV has increasingly been working with Governments to develop national capacity, so that people can have the opportunity to volunteer in their own country.

Co-sponsored by the Government of Germany, the General Assembly in its resolution 63/153 encouraged governments, voluntary organizations, civil society, the private sector, and United Nations organizations to celebrate volunteering as an expression of our common humanity and as a means of building mutual respect, understanding, trust, solidarity and reciprocity.

In celebrating the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Volunteer (IYV+10), all these partners aim to promote the values of volunteering, build and reinforce volunteering networks both nationally and globally, and help people tap their potential to make a real difference and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

The Government of Germany commends the work the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme as the focal point of the UN system for the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Volunteer (IYV+10). We furthermore appreciate UNV’s role as a facilitator of multi-stakeholder cooperation and dialogue at the national, regional, and global levels, including online initiatives, such as the “world volunteer web” and “online volunteering”.

We are pleased to be a co-funder of UNV IYV+10 activities. In September, UNV, together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Association for Volunteer Effort, will organize a Global Volunteer Conference, which will take place in Budapest, Hungary.

Also in September, the Government of Germany is hosting the 64th Annual UNDPI-NGO Conference, which will take place from 3-5 September in the city of Bonn. We are working together with UNDPI and UNV and many NGO stakeholders in the preparations for this conference. The theme of the conference “Sustainable Societies; Responsive Citizens” touches on the importance of engaging people and communities through voluntary action into achieving sustainable societies.

We think that the outcome of these two conferences in September could provide valuable input for the two special sessions of the General Assembly to he held in December 2011 to celebrate the tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers.

We are also looking forward to the first State of the World’s Volunteerism Report which is currently being prepared by UNV. We expect that this report will further illustrate the importance of volunteerism, its status as a universal value and its important role in areas such as sustainable livelihoods, social cohesion, and social inclusion and in achieving the MDGs.

The Government of Germany is proud to host UNV in Bonn, Germany, and as such, to support from Bonn volunteering for peace and development worldwide. We therefore continue to strongly support UNV’s Special Voluntary Fund (SVF) and call on other Governments to support UNV, both via the SVF and in its role as focal point for the tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers .

© GermanyUN