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International Volunteer Day 2016

Speech by Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator in Tajikistan

Distinguished guests, honoured hosts of Ismaili Centre and dear volunteers, Happy International Volunteer Day 2016!

The International Volunteer Day wasdesignated by the UN General Assembly in 1985, through Resolution 40/212, as an international observance day to celebrate the power and potential of volunteers. The day, December 5th, gives us an opportunity to thank and celebrate volunteers all over the world.

Volunteerism is not just noble but necessary. It is a tool to provide young people with practical experience and to not so young to contribute through their experience and make meaningful impact. It is so encouraging to see that around the world millions of volunteers are making significant contribution to make this world a better place for all.

Our common future should prioritize global solidarity, “leaving no one behind” in order to step up in achieving the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. In recognition of the importance of volunterism, the UN Member States last year adopted the UN General Assembly which approved a resolution 70/129 on volunteerism, paving the way for integrating volunteering in the 2030 Agenda. The resolution recognizes that volunteerism can be a powerful means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda, to achieve 17 SDGs, and ensuring that no one is left behind.

UN Volunteers in Tajikistanhas been in operation since August 2010. UNV programme contributes to peace and development by advocating for the recognition of volunteers and working with partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming.

One of the successful initiatives of UNVolunteers in 2016 was the Start-Up Choihona project to increase youth employment in Tajikistan. The project creates a platform for entrepreneur-minded people, and help boost the start-up ecosystem in Tajikistan by bringing entrepreneurs, ideas and partners together. The Choihona project wasespecially designed to answer to the need of involving young people of Tajikistan in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 8, which is to increase economic growth by leaving no one behind. By harnessing the potential of young people, we engage them in development and give them a chance to express their vision of the future.

Another remarkable event in 2016, initiated by the UN Volunteers in Tajikistan, was the Run Against Gender Based Violence, that was organized last weekend in Dushanbe. The event brought together a critical mass to support and express the voice on behalf of the silent victims of gender based violence.

These kinds of initiatives show the power of volunteerism in development. At the moment, more than hundred Tajik young people have signed up to volunteer to support UN work and the number is increasing.

I am very happy that this year we are celebrating International Volunteers in Tajikistan together with the UN Volunteers and the volunteers of Ismaili Centre of Dushanbe. The work that the Ismaili Centre volunteers do for the society is remarkable. And the work that Aga Khan Development Network has done in Tajikistan, for decades, has been widely and globally recognized. One of the great examples of the volunteering spirit among the Ismaili community is this Centre, where 70 percent of the work is done by volunteers. That is anadmirable work done by volunteers.

Today we are here to celebrate the contribution of the volunteers to peace and development. The day is a culmination of a volunteer year for both UN Volunteers, Ismaili Center volunteers and for the billion volunteers in the world, and an appreciation for the work they have done during 2016.

This year’s theme: GlobalApplause – give volunteers a hand, recognizes volunteers worldwide and all they do in making peace and sustainable development a reality.

By giving a round of GlobalApplause we recognize all volunteers everywhere and the contribution they make. While "giving volunteers a hand", we also encourage everyone who has not yet volunteered to join in and take part!


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