Olivier Adam opens Forum Blagodiynykiv18 February 2011, Kyiv - Mr. Oliver Adam, UN Resident Coordinator, opened the international conference “Volunteering – a path to philanthropy for everyone” in front of 250 participants at the President Hotel. The conference contributes to celebrate and spread awareness on the tenth anniversary of International Year of the Volunteers and the first European Year of Volunteering.

Olivier Adam opens Forum Blagodiynykiv18 February 2011, Kyiv - Mr. Oliver Adam, UN Resident Coordinator, opened the international conference “Volunteering – a path to philanthropy for everyone” in front of 250 participants at the President Hotel. The conference contributes to celebrate and spread awareness on the tenth anniversary of International Year of the Volunteers and the first European Year of Volunteering.

Olivier Adam opens Forum Blagodiynykiv18 February 2011, Kyiv - Mr. Oliver Adam, UN Resident Coordinator, opened the international conference “Volunteering – a path to philanthropy for everyone” in front of 250 participants at the President Hotel. The conference contributes to celebrate and spread awareness on the tenth anniversary of International Year of the Volunteers and the first European Year of Volunteering.

In his speech Mr. Adam stressed that “UN is a strong and constant ally of the volunteer movement”. He noted that “in Ukraine, in particular, the spirit of volunteerism is indubitably growing; however the path to fully tap in the great resources constituted by volunteers is still long. Therefore UN urge the Government to make a full use of volunteerism in the design and implementation of policies in order not to overlook a valuable asset nor undermine traditions of cooperation that bind communities together”.

In his speech UN Resident Coordinator, Olivier Adam stated: "It is a great pleasure and wonderful opportunity to be here today to open the conference on “Volunteerism: the path to philanthropy for everyone” because this event coincides with the start of the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Volunteers (IYV), proclaimed by the United Nations.

First launched in 2001 by the UN General Assembly, the International Year of the Volunteers offers an exceptional opportunity to join a global effort to reinvigorate the spirit of volunteerism and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

The power of volunteerism – drawing upon the immense social capital that exists in every society and community – if properly focused and harnessed can be equally successful in MDG acceleration and achievement. Achieving the MDGs will not require only the commitment of Government, development partners and private sector. It needs also the ingenuity, solidarity and creativity of millions of ordinary people through voluntary action.

In this regard the Johns Hopkins University has recently presented a study – in cooperation with the UN- covering more than 40 countries revealing that at least 12% of the adult population in these countries volunteers. They represent the equivalent of 20.8 million, full-time equivalent workers, making a $400 billion contribution to the economy. The equivalent of 3 times the annual nominal GDP of Ukraine. However, this extraordinary contribution –done by ordinary people- often goes unnoticed. These individuals, their actions are frequently taken for granted by society and institutions. In some cases, volunteers may not even realize what fundamental contribution they are bringing to others.

Recognizing the power of volunteerism is the first step towards harnessing this vast resource in a global effort to achieve the MDG targets.

In Ukraine, in particular, the spirit of volunteerism is indubitably growing; however the path to fully tap in the great resources constituted by volunteers is still long. According to the latest UNICEF report on Youth policy, only 3-5% of youth volunteers in youth organizations and overall only 8.3% Ukrainian citizens offer their time and skills for social activities.

Of course the reasons are different. The Cultural Soviet legacy that mixed the concept of service for the community with the compulsory approach has weakened the idea that volunteerism is done out of free will for the mutual benefit of the recipient of the action as well as of the volunteers himself.

Consequently it is not uncommon that NGOs are not always aware how to properly manage and harness volunteers’ efforts. Volunteers are a cost effective resource, but it is not cost free. Volunteers’ selection, training and motivation require skilled staff able to maintain a constant relation in order to retain them.

Certainly, the lack of a proper legal framework for volunteers does not facilitate Ukrainian civil society and institutions to make a full use of the volunteers’ potential. At the UN, we believe that “neglecting to factor volunteering into the design and implementation of policies could entail the risk of overlooking a valuable asset and undermine traditions of cooperation that bind communities together”.

However, this year, the common focus of IYV+10 and European Year of Volunteer poses an invaluable opportunity to explore synergies and collective initiatives to promote and recognize volunteerism both at the grassroots and at the institutional levels.

To conclude, let me stress once again that the volunteer movement will always find in the UN a strong and constant ally because at the core of volunteerism are the ideals of service and solidarity and the belief that together we can make the world a better place. In that sense, we can really say that volunteerism is the ultimate expression of what the United Nations is all about.

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About the UN system in Ukraine:
The UN works in Ukraine since 1992 and consists of the following 12 agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commisioner For Refugees (UNHCR), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Also active are UN related organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime(UNODC) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which works under the bank. These organizations work in different areas and with their own strategies, but are united by an overriding strategic goal: to assist the people of Ukraine in their efforts to build a better future for the country. www.un.org.ua

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The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the volunteer arm of the United Nations. Created by the UN General Assembly in 1970 to serve as an operational partner in development cooperation at the request of UN member states, it mobilizes qualified UNV volunteers and encourages people to become active in volunteering in their countries. It is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and works through UNDP`s country offices around the world. http://ukraine.unv.org/ua.html

More information:
Victoria Andrievska
Communications Officer
UN Office in Ukraine
Tel.: +38 (044) 254 00 35
Email: andrievska@un.org