Global perspective Human stories

Volunteerism can help countries meet socioeconomic goals, Annan says

Volunteerism can help countries meet socioeconomic goals, Annan says

Volunteering by people in both developing and developed countries can help achieve the goal of halving extreme poverty everywhere in the world by 2015, as well as improving the status of women and protecting the environment, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message marking International Volunteer Day today.

The practice, whether “on the ground in communities, or online at home, enables ordinary people to perform extraordinary tasks,” he said. “Such contributions are vital, whether one is working to eradicate poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy, or struggling to protect the global environment and safeguard women against discrimination and violence.”

He said the strength of volunteerism lies in its universality. “All that is needed is a willingness to share time, a skill, or a good idea.”

He urged governments and civil society alike to “create more opportunities for people to volunteer.”

The UN itself encourages volunteerism through its UN Volunteers (UNV), headquartered in Bonn, Germany, and operated by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Every year some 5,000 UN volunteers from more than 150 different nationalities actively support the work of the UN.

To examine the role of volunteerism in development, Pakistan is scheduled to host the first UN system conference on volunteerimg and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from Sunday to Tuesday this week.

Experts from around the world with diverse backgrounds in development and volunteerism will share views and discuss actions to increase volunteer contributions to global anti-poverty goals, according to conference organizers.