Nairobi -- About 100 UN Volunteers have served with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in the past seven years.
In order to take this work forward, UNEP and UN Volunteers (UNV) have agreed to cooperate more closely with an eye towards the conservation, protection, enhancement and support of nature and natural resources, according to a new Memorandum of Understanding signed today.
By the terms of the agreement, UNEP confirmed its commitment to work with UNV towards enhancing an environment within which volunteerism is recognized as a significant element in the success of its programmes and activities.
In turn, UNV re-confirmed its commitment to supporting UNEP's mission through volunteerism for peace and development ? including environmental conservation.
Both parties agreed to promote the awareness of each other's programmes through exploring possibilities for increased online collaboration, among other things.
The agreement further laid out an Operational Framework, Conditions of Service, and other terms for UN Volunteers' work with UNEP.
Volunteering in the UN system
In his Five-year Action Agenda ? announced at the start of 2012 ? UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made working with young people one of his top official priorities.
UN Volunteers are one of the talent-management solutions available to the UN system. This cost-effective talent pool can be deployed to work in synergy with staff and personnel of the UN entities and to bolster the effective delivery of their programmes and mandates.
In addition, volunteerism has been identified as an innovative way to boost South-South Development at the global level. Close to 81 per cent of UN Volunteers come from the Global South. Thus, they tend to be familiar with local development challenges and societal norms, and can apply culturally-sensitive approaches that foster participation and generate a sense of ownership.
Types of UN Volunteers
- International UN Volunteers are typically professionals with specialized knowledge. They come from all walks of life and over 100 professions, bringing five to ten years of experience to their assignments. The average age of international UN Volunteers is 38.
- National UN Volunteers are nationals of the host country, normally recruited locally. These volunteers concentrate in such areas as local community outreach. Recent university graduates with specialized skills are also recruited as national UN Volunteers.
- UN Youth Volunteers are between the ages of 18 and 29 and may be engaged for national and international assignments of up to two years. In return for their work, they receive additional learning and guidance in areas such as primary health, education, climate change adaptation and human rights.
UN Online Volunteering
Another rapidly growing modality to provide strategic support across the UN system is UNV Online Volunteering.
Over 11,000 UN Online Volunteers conduct some 15,000 assignments over the internet annually to bolster peace and development activities of UN entities, governments and civil society organizations.
In 2012, more than 6,000 of these assignments supported projects in sub-Saharan Africa, around 4,900 supported global initiatives and almost 3,000 supported projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2012, 62 per cent of UN Online Volunteers were from developing countries.
UNV-UNEP success stories
Youth volunteerism at the South-South Development Expo: About 40 UN Youth Volunteers actively supported the Global South-South Development Expo held in Nairobi from 28 October to 1 November 2013.
They provided logistical support and editorial services, reporting on the proceedings of meetings, writing summaries of roundtable discussions and disseminating information using social media tools. Twenty-five UN Online Volunteers were also mobilized for the event.
Saving forests through volunteerism: In Viet Nam, UNV is collaborating with UNEP's UN-REDD programmme on a project to help the country prepare to implement measures to reduce global emissions from deforestation.
UNV involvement ensures that capacity building and awareness raising campaigns for government staff, civil society and the public are integral to the changes taking place. Among other things, UNVs have facilitated knowledge management and information sharing on the project, maintained the UN-REDD website and improved its usability and accessibility.
Encouraging communities to think globally and act locally: UN Youth Volunteers have worked at the UNEP Liaison Office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, helping to increase UNEP's visibility and to enhance environmental awareness and communication.
They also liaised with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Forestry, and worked to organize Clean Up the World ? Clean Up Addis! events with local partners.