International Volunteer Day: Ban highlights potential of youth as agents of change

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) meets with volunteers of “My World,” a UN-led global survey of people’s priorities for a better world. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

5 December 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today paid tribute to the millions of young volunteers around the world who are acting globally for social change, marking this year’s International Volunteer Day.

“There are more than 1.2 billion youth in the world today, with incredible potential to tackle challenges and act as agents of change,” he said in his message for the Day, observed annually on 5 December.

“When young people volunteer, the opportunity provides them with valuable life and job skills; it strengthens their capacity to lead and become engaged in their communities and global society.”

Mr. Ban highlighted in particular the nearly 1,000 young UN Volunteers (UNV) who are supporting the work of the United Nations for peace, sustainable development and human rights. “UN Volunteers work alongside UN staff to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable populations in the world.

He added that volunteerism is “a two-way street,” noting that even as volunteers help generate positive change for others, their own lives are often transformed by the act of volunteering itself.

“On this International Volunteer Day, let us renew our commitment to offering young people diverse and meaningful volunteer opportunities to become active and confident contributors to global change.”

People in over 80 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe are celebrating the Day today with volunteer activities, parades, volunteer fairs, group clean-ups, blood donations, rallies, conferences, exhibitions, fundraising, workshops and other volunteer recognition events.

“During my first year at the helm of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, I have been extremely fortunate to visit dozens of UNV-supported projects around the world, where UN Volunteers, many of them young women and men, have been at the forefront of global peace and sustainable human development efforts,” says Richard Dictus, UNV Executive Coordinator.

“Not only have these volunteers brought real lasting changes through their actions, but they are also having a tremendous impact by serving as role models for other young people.”

Based in Bonn, Germany, UNV is active in around 130 countries every year.


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