International Volunteer Day is celebrated each year on 5 December and its main focus is to raise awareness of and recognition for volunteers and volunteer organizations. In Africa, many volunteers and volunteer organisations contribute to sustainable development by engaging people at all levels of society in bringing about transformational change in the lives of people, communities and ecosystems.
Through International Volunteer Day, people become aware and informed about the impact of volunteering on peace and sustainable development, and are able to applaud volunteers for their dedication and impact. “Volunteering is a key driver of the changes needed in our societies to achieve sustainable development,” says United Nations Volunteers’ Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri. “If we – each one of us – don’t engage, participate and recognize our unsustainable lifestyles have to change, how can we expect to build a sustainable future for generations to come?”
In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly recommended that governments recognize the potential contribution of volunteerism to achieving sustainable development goals. The United Nations 2011 ‘Volunteering for Our Future’ report describes the countless actions of people across the globe, who volunteer their time, skills and services towards creating a better future.
Volunteer organisations in Africa are involved in a myriad of community development, environmental conservation and peace building projects – from conducting marine surveys and monitoring turtle populations and dolphins – to working on climate change and restoration projects.
If you are keen to get involved in volunteering in Africa, there are many options available as a host of organizations offer placements to volunteers who are keen to support their work. There are also many volunteer organizations that operate in Africa, which offer placements for volunteers on important community and conservation projects.
Light-up our world: a video featuring Angelique Kidjo on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers and the lead-up to International Volunteer Day, 2011.