24 April 2012
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

PRESS CONFERENCE on launch of multimedia campaign ‘volunteer action counts’

 


High-level officials today launched at United Nations Headquarters a multimedia campaign to highlight the important role of volunteering towards achieving sustainable development.


“Volunteer Action Counts” aims to raise volunteers and awareness that people make a difference in making the kind of lifestyle changes needed to reach the global sustainable goals the Rio+20 Conference was setting, said Flavia Pansieri, Executive Coordinator, United Nations Volunteers, which co-sponsored the launch.


“It’s essential to have Governments play their part, but it’s equally important and essential to allow citizens the space to show their commitment, their engagement, their own initiative to make a difference,” Ms. Pansieri said.


People can visit Twitter, Facebook or www.actioncounts.org to tell the world what they are doing to promote environmental and economic sustainability ahead of Rio+20, the Conference on Sustainable Development, coming up in June.  “The message at Rio has to be that we all have a collective responsibility,” she said.  “We all have a common role to play.”


By the time of the noon-hour press launch, 600 people had already signed on to share their stories, she said.  Campaign partners included software developer Zerofootprint and the Stakeholder Forum for Sustainable Development.  The end result will measure what individual actions could produce when added together.  “There is no Planet B,” she said.  “We want to protect it.  We want to keep it sustainable.”


Nikhil Chandavarkar, Branch Chief of Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which also sponsored the launch, said volunteer actions were indeed at the centre of the Rio+20 discussions.


“The big contrast in the original Rio Conference and the present Rio Conference is the role of civil society and private voluntary initiatives,” he said, adding that the bulk of the expected 50,000 to 60,000 people attending Rio+20 would come from civil society and the private sector.


Shifting wasteful consumption patterns to sustainable ones required voluntary action, he said.  “International conventions won’t get us there,” he said.  “It will really have to be a change of heart that comes from private volunteer action.”


Answering general questions on United Nations Volunteers, Ms. Pansieri said the programme provided medical and professional screening for all volunteers sent to the field, where they wore identification indicating their status and received a living expense stipend provided by relevant projects or agencies.


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For information media • not an official record