International Volunteer Day 2015 Your world is changing. Are you? Volunteer!

Dec 4, 2015

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Mongolia, together with Network of Mongolian Volunteer Organizations (NMVO) and other local partners, hosted the annual celebration of the International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2015 from 3 to 5 December 2015 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. IVD 2015 not only celebrated volunteerism in all its facets, but also emphasized volunteers’ contributions to the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals, from children to the elderly.

Adopted by all 193 United Nations (UN) Member States on September 25, 2015, the SDGs are 17 ambitious goals to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice and tackle climate change for everyone by 2030. Volunteers all over the world have contributed to the crystallization of the new Goals. IVD, established by the UN General Assembly in 1985, recognizes the commitment of volunteers and volunteer organizations, informs people about the impact of volunteering on peace and sustainable development, and applauds volunteers for their dedication and impact.

Volunteer Talks and the launch of iVolunteer.mn, among other IVD 2015 celebrations, took place on 4 December at the UN House, Ulaanbaatar. “This is a call to every-one of us. A call to take action and tackle the challenges the world is facing and to contribute to implementing the newly launched Global Goals, ensuring that we “leave no one behind” in this effort,” noted Ms. Beate Trankmann, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, in her opening remarks. Mr. Jambaldorj Ts., from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ms. Undral Gombodorj, from NMVO, and Mr. Badral Tuvshin, from National Emergency Management Agency, also delivered opening remarks.

The openings emphasized the significance of volunteers’ contributions to national as well as international development; the achievements and progress of volunteerism in the country through various international conferences and volunteer services in 2015; role of volunteers in disaster risk reduction and climate action, and the importance of early introduction of the law on volunteerism in Mongolia.  

The first ever ‘Volunteer Talks’ in the country explored how volunteers in Mongolia can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. Mr. Serdaram Damdin inspired over 140 attendees with his extensive volunteer work in and enthusiasm for environment protection of his mother land. Through tree planting, My Club, which was founded by Mr. Serdaram, has been fighting desertification in Mongolia for the last 10 years. Second speaker, a youth leader Mr. Dulguun Bayasgalan emphasized that volunteers can be engaged not only in humanitarian aid but aso in the arts, showcasing his own involvement in a local film club. His passion for flim making has contributed to enriching the cultural scene in Mongolia, as well as to his own personal development. Last speaker, Mr. Batdorj Gongor described how and why the community involvement is crucial for the enhanced ownership of people-centred development in the ger district of Ulaanbaatar. In addition, two international TED Talks related to volunteering were screened.

Following the Volunteer Talks, ‘iVolunteer.mn’ was launched. iVolunteer is an online platform where volunteers and volunteer involving organizations in Mongolia can interact and share volunteer opportunities. The co-founder, Mr. Purevjav Tumendemberel explained how the platform was developed as a volunteer-led initiative, mentioning that: “The whole idea didn’t come from the government or any organization. It came from us, volunteers. I belive that the power to take action comes from within; not from the outside, but from the people themselves.” iVolunteer’s vision is: share; act, and make change happen together. The participants applauded this local initiative, which was much awaited both from volunteers and organizations.

The audience had the opportunity to share their opinions and comments as well. They appreciated the volunteer leaders for taking action; engaging people on the ground; inspiring fellow citizens; and making changes happen. At the end of the event, participants also networked, and exchanged ideas and volunteering opportunities.

Besides celebrations on 4 December, UNV Mongolia and Youth Development Discovery Bridge organized ‘Have fun with SDGs!’ on 3 December at the UN House. More than 50 children from public schools in Ulaanbaatar, including the ger district, learned through fun games and activities about SDGs and how volunteering is important in achieving peace and development in the world. At the end of the event, children presented their own drawings and wishes. They described how they envision people’s and nature’s well-being in Mongolia and in the world. The children’s artwork was displayed in the UN House auditorium during the Volunteer Talks and iVolunteer launch.  

Led by NMVO, the annual Best Volunteer Awards ceremony was held on 5 December at the Chinggis Khan Hotel in Ulaanbaatar. Six individual volunteers, volunteer involving or supporting organizations of the year were awarded for their outstanding achievements in 2015.

Through merging the United Nations’ support with a grassroots mandate, IVD is a unique opportunity for volunteer-involving organizations to work with the government agencies, non-profit organizations, community groups and the private sector. IVD 2015 promoted volunteers and volunteer-involving organizations and their contributions at all levels. It especially paid tributes to volunteers working to implement the Global Goals by mobilizing and engaging communities, organizations and governments.

About UNV 

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that promotes volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. Volunteerism can transform the pace and nature of development, and it benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer. UNV contributes to peace and development by advocating for volunteerism globally, encouraging partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming, and mobilizing volunteers.

UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). For more information about UNV, please visit www.unv.org.