Following is UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ message for International Volunteer Day, observed on 5 December:
The 2030 Agenda calls for a just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met.
Volunteerism is a powerful mechanism to engage people, especially those left farthest behind, in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. When people volunteer, they connect with others and foster a sense of purpose.
This year’s International Volunteer Day theme, “Volunteer for an Inclusive Future”, celebrates that, through volunteering, people make meaningful contributions to more inclusive and equalitarian societies.
By voluntary actions, people on the margins can become more included in societies. For example, the “#HerStory initiative”, with 500 volunteer editors throughout the Arab States, has increased the representation of women in the Arabic‑language Wikipedia, achieving more gender inclusiveness in the culture of the region. United Nations volunteers in the Accessible India Campaign augmented accessibility for people with disabilities by auditing 1,600 public buildings across 25 major cities. And in refugee camps throughout the globe, displaced people themselves are volunteering for children’s education and better intercultural understanding.
In addition to increasing the number of United Nations volunteers to contribute to the United Nations system activities in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we must continue to promote volunteerism worldwide — as it nurtures solidarity and cohesion through underlying values of cooperation and reciprocity. Volunteerism is essential to ensure that global sustainable development efforts are owned by all people, implemented by all people and for all people.
On this year’s International Volunteers Day, I thank all volunteers from around the world who make the world a more inclusive and tolerant place.