The International Volunteer Day (IVD) mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1985, is held each year on the 5th of December. IVD is a unique opportunity for volunteers and Volunteer Involving Organizations (VIOs) to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognise volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), celebrate their efforts, share their values, and promote their work among communities, potential donors, United Nations agencies, government authorities and the private sector.

In addition to advocating for, integrating and mobilising thousands of volunteers worldwide, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme contributes to peace and development by recognising volunteers and working with partners to integrate volunteerism into the development agenda.

2021- UNV50 Country Awards

In Sri Lanka, UNV celebrated the Golden Anniversary through the UNV50 Country Awards on 7 December, recognising organisations and individuals advocating, promoting and integrating volunteerism contributing to the development of the country.

UNV Sri Lanka also commemorated the 10th Anniversary of its flagship initiatives, V-Awards and V-Force launched in 2011 during the 10th Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10). The occasion was graced by the Minister of Youth and Sports, UN Resident Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative and Heads of UN Agencies and the World Bank.

2020 – Together We Can through Volunteering

UNV celebrated five days of volunteerism in the walk-up to IVD, starting on 1 December, with a series of webinars in collaboration with partners. On 5 December, UNV, WHO and other partners hosted a virtual celebration to recognise and appreciate the thousands of volunteers and frontline responders across the country for their exemplary and courageous efforts in COVID-19 response.

This event brought together over 170 participants on Zoom and another 800+ joining through Facebook. In addition, as part of the campaign, UNV facilitated publishing a series of articles on volunteerism in local newspapers between November 2020 to January 2021, featuring authors from volunteer organisations, academia, WHO and UNV. 

2019 – Volunteer for an Inclusive Future

IVD 2019 was celebrated under the theme ‘Volunteer for an Inclusive Future’ at Mihilaka Medura Hall, BMICH in Sri Lanka. The programme focused on encouraging volunteers to engage with communities in their diverse capacities and sensitize them on working with marginalised groups including people with disabilities and gender minorities.

This intervention enabled UNV Sri Lanka to spread the message of inclusion and volunteerism under the theme #volunteer4inclusion through a variety of interactive knowledge-sharing sessions, case-sharing of volunteers and forum theatre scripted and directed by the UN Volunteers focusing on inclusion.

Ms. Sharmalee Jayasinghe – Programme Associate of UNV echoed these sentiments and emphasized how natural disasters such as droughts and floods could be mitigated and prevented through protecting the nation’s natural resources. She went on to acknowledge her enthusiasm for the tree planting initiative as it would bring together the UNVs, the community, and government officials.

The celebrations continued on November 25th with the hallmark tree planting initiative, which saw the initial target of 5000 trees come close to fruition. UNV and UNDP joined hands with farm organizations, students of the Wayamba University, and nearly 500 community volunteers and V-Force members, to plant Kumbuk (Terminalia Arjuna), Karanda (Pongamia Pinnata) and Mee (Madhuca Longifolia) on the tank bunts and of 10 selected tanks in Galgamuwa. Participants battled through the adverse weather conditions and came together as one to make this event a resounding success.

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