Statement by Helen Clark on the occasion of International Volunteer Day

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International Volunteer Day is a day to reflect on the contribution of volunteers world-wide to peace and development. On International Volunteer Day 2013, UNDP and United Nations Volunteers are highlighting the contributions of youth volunteers to creating a better world.

The current generation of youth is the largest in human history. More than eighty per cent of the world's youth live in developing countries, where they are increasingly asserting their role in tackling global challenges and acting as transformational agents of change in society through volunteering.  

This year, UNDP and UNV jointly launched the first dedicated trust fund to boost youth volunteerism, and to harness the energy of young people around the world to achieving development goals while also enhancing their own lives.

In the coming year, UNV and UNDP will partner on a UN Youth Volunteer Programme, which will give young people opportunities to be involved with the work of the UN and with social transformation.

Volunteers, including many young women and men, already play a vital role in UNDP projects and programmes around the world.  Volunteer health workers, teachers, climate change adaptation specialists, and relief workers, among others, join staff on the frontlines of UNDPs efforts in 127 countries.

For example, UN Volunteers supported a peaceful electoral process in Kenya through a youth participation project called Get Informed, Get Involved. Implemented by Youth Agenda with support from UNV and UNDP and our Democratic Governance Thematic Trust Fund, the project encouraged youth to participate in the political process.

I am proud of the tremendous contribution of volunteers to the work of UNDP, and inspired by their dedication and commitment.  UNDP recognizes the important role of volunteerism in global peace and sustainable human development.  It is also a powerful tool for maximizing the potential of youth.  

On this International Volunteer Day, I encourage all young people to consider applying their energy and talents to volunteering.

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