The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is inspired by the conviction that volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges worldwide.  Everyone can contribute their time, skills and knowledge through volunteer action, and their combined efforts can be a significant force for achieving peace and development.The concept of volunteerism for development centres on optimizing volunteerism’s impact on peace and development.  Achieving this requires the cooperation and commitment of the public sector, civil society and the private sector with support from the United Nations system and the world community.  Individual citizens also have an important role to play through volunteering.

Volunteerism for development enhances the capacity of people to exercise choices to set and achieve their own development objectives, which can result in real improvements that benefit others as well as themselves.  If development is to be effective and sustainable, the people affected by it must take ownership of, and give relevance to, its processes and drive them forward through civic engagement.

Every day, individuals are engaged in development initiatives through volunteer actions both large and small in an effort to improve conditions for others and themselves.  Volunteerism by many millions of people is critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Volunteerism strengthens—and is strengthened by—trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and it can transform the pace and nature of development.  Volunteerism is purposeful, creating opportunities for citizens to participate in development.  Through volunteerism, more people participate in development, and at all levels of society, which empowers them and gives them a personal stake in their country’s future.

In this way, volunteerism fosters secure and stable environments conducive to the peaceful resolution of conflict. UNV strengthens the capacities of national partners, enabling local ownership of peace and development processes and encouraging recognition of volunteers and their cohesive engagement for peacebuilding.

UNV contributes to volunteerism for development by advocating for volunteerism globally, encouraging the integration of volunteerism into development programming, and mobilizing volunteers.  The UNV programme advocates for environments in which volunteerism can flourish and people have the ability and the right to participate in the development process.  We promote the integration of volunteering into the objectives and activities of partners such as governments and development organizations, and we do so to facilitate national ownership of development processes.  UNV also mobilizes, and supports others to mobilize, large numbers of people to volunteer in pursuit of human development.