United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges, and it can transform the pace and nature of development. Volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation.
UNV contributes to peace and development by advocating for recognition of volunteers, working with partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming, and mobilizing an increasing number and diversity of volunteers, including experienced UN Volunteers, globally. UNV embraces volunteerism as universal and inclusive, and recognizes volunteerism in its diversity as well as the values that sustain it: free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity.
UNV mobilizes around 8,000 UN Volunteers annually, of which one third volunteer within their own countries. Almost 80 per cent come from developing countries.
Disaster Reduction Goal
To mobilize volunteers and strengthen volunteerism initiatives in support of disaster risk reduction and management, especially to strengthen community capacity to respond to and prevent disasters, building upon the innate social capital, capacity and culture, and the ancient traditions of self-help, goodwill and solidarity that exists in every community.
Policies and Programmes in DRR
UNV mobilizes and places national and international UN Volunteers in response to requests from UN entities and government partners. UNV also works with partners to integrate volunteerism into programming for disaster risk reduction and management. UNV works in disaster response, risk reduction, crisis prevention and community-based adaptation to climate change.
The Hyogo Framework for Action adopted at the 2005 World Conference on Disaster Reduction explicitly recognized volunteer contributions in disaster risk reduction and the need of the strategic management of volunteer resources at all levels of DRR, with particular attention to its role in strengthening the community level. Accordingly, UNV has intensified its work in disaster risk reduction and management, together with partners, especially in strengthening community capacity to respond to and prevent disasters.
UNV was awarded a United Nations Sasakawa Certificate of Merit for its achievements in mobilizing university graduates to support disaster reduction initiatives in Guatemala in 2002.
At the country level, UNV is officially represented through the UNDP Resident Representative. In approximately 100 countries UNV has a Field Unit (FU), which is part of the UNDP Country Office. Volunteers could be placed with all UN entities and with government counterparts.
Making disaster risk reduction a policy priority, institutional strengthening (HFA 1)
UNV works with governments to develop volunteer infrastructure for disaster risk reduction, and on management that could support, for example, the mobilization of volunteers, coordinate the activities of volunteer involving organizations, promote good volunteer management, advocate for the value of volunteerism, and develop a database of volunteers.
Risk assessment and early warning systems (HFA 2)
UNV supports the creation of early warning systems through the establishment of disaster management teams, and ensuring community participation by training volunteers in local and rural communities. UNV builds expertise in coping capacity in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Brazil.
Education, information and public awareness (HFA 3)
UN Volunteers assist the mobilization of individuals ensuring wide dissemination of information, public awareness and strong community voluntary action. UNV supports the production and roll-out of village and provincial disaster risk management plans ensuring full ownership of communities.
Reducing underlying risk factors (HFA 4)
UN Volunteers provide a vital link between governments and affected communities, empowering them to participate actively in rehabilitation and sustainable livelihoods. UNV supported community reconstruction in tsunami-affected areas through the involvement of national and international UN Volunteers.
Preparedness for effective response (HFA 5)
In Latin America and the Caribbean, UNV is developing a strategy to strengthen the role of volunteers in sustainable risk reduction and recovery programmes in a number of countries. These national projects focus on:
1. Increasing the capacities of volunteers and Volunteer Involving Organizations (VIOs) to better respond to disasters;
2. Integrating volunteers and VIOs in DRR strategies;
3. Piloting emergency plans with the involvement of VIOs. This project also aims to identify best practices and lessons learned at the regional level.
Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point(s)
Relevant Section: Development Division