Ms. Shalina Miah, Regional Manager for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations Volunteers programme,
Colleagues from UNV and the United Nations system,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a joy and honour to take part in this celebration of International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, especially since 2021 also happens to be the 50th year -- the Golden Anniversary -- of the United Nations Volunteers programme.
Back in 1985, when establishing International Volunteer Day, the UN General Assembly highlighted the role of volunteers in development work by urging governments and other stakeholders to organize activities that would “heighten awareness of the important contributions of volunteer service, thereby stimulating more people in all walks of life to offer their services as volunteers, both at home and abroad.”
Going back even further, the establishment in 1971 of the UNV programme was early recognition by countries of the important contributions volunteers have made throughout our modern history. They gave their time and expertise to help address many of our common problems and often at a great personal sacrifice.
If we apply that background to our circumstances today, the theme of this year’s celebration, “Volunteer now for our common future,” speaks to the integral nature of volunteers and volunteerism to achieving the SDGs.
Indeed, volunteers have been working actively on solutions, including climate change, gender equality, poverty and hunger, to name just a few.
Volunteers have also been prominent in supporting efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic these past two years.
Leading the way in providing volunteers with the opportunity to serve is the UNV programme.
In 50 years, the UNV programme has grown from a few dozen volunteers to close to 9,500 in more than 100 professions. These men and women today serve all over the globe, including here in Asia and the Pacific.
In a very welcome development, we take note that more than a third of the volunteers are under the age of 29, demonstrating that younger persons have taken to heart the call for service.
We are proud partners with the Asia and Pacific regional office, working with Shalina and her team to learn more about how UNVs can contribute to the work of ESCAP.
In fact, we have had successful placements with our subregional office in the Pacific and well as here in Bangkok. We look forward to an expanded place within ESCAP for more volunteers in more areas of work.
Next year ESCAP will celebrate its own 75th anniversary, and we continue to draw inspiration from the UNVs to do more. We see for ourselves the good spirit of volunteerism and the enthusiasm with which volunteers go about their work.
Today, we are here to celebrate alongside our UNV colleagues the achievements of the past five decades.
Once again, I congratulate our colleagues from UNV for 50 years of a job well done and convey my very best wishes for International Volunteer Day.
Thank you very much.