Multi-billion dollar value of volunteer work the focus of UN-backed conference

UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri

16 September 2011 – Ways to measure the economic value of volunteer work that amounts worldwide to hundreds of billions and possibly trillions of dollars, will take centre stage on the final day of a United Nations-backed conference in Budapest tomorrow.

Co-hosted by the UN Volunteers (UNV) programme and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Global Volunteering Conference, marking the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers, has gathered leaders from governments, UN agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs) and other international organizations to discuss ‘Volunteering for a Sustainable Future.’

Participants tomorrow will be introduced to the new Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work published by the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies, supported by UNV.

Previous estimates by the centre showed that, even conservatively estimated, the value of volunteering across just 37 countries amounted to at least $400 billion. However, the lack of comparable data on global volunteering has left it under-valued and its full potential unrealized.

“This long-awaited manual will really boost the visibility of volunteer work,” UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri said of the document, which aims to help statisticians and economists measure the value of volunteer work at the national, regional and global levels by tracking the amount, type and value of such work in their countries.

“By providing an agreed methodology for measuring the significance of volunteering, it will help governments create better volunteering policy and legislation. In turn, that will help volunteers at the grassroots do what they do best, which is making an impact on sustainable development, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), peace-building and humanitarian assistance.”

The MDGs seek to slash hunger and poverty, maternal and infant mortality, a host of diseases and lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015.


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