Volunteers serving in Mauritius. From left to right Ramatoulaye Moussa Mazou (Communications Specialist for UNDP), Raphaelle Godts (Project Support Officer for UNODC) and Faisal Shaikh (Specialist on health system for WHO). ©UNDP Mauritius

On 5 December 2019, we celebrate International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development. It is an opportunity to highlight the work of volunteers around the world who make a significant contribution to the economic and social development of the community in which they invest their talents and energy.

It is also an opportunity to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognize the contribution of volunteers to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the local, national and international levels.

The example of the United Nations Volunteers Programme

The observation is as follows: volunteerism is a valuable tool to stimulate people to engage in development challenges. The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is inspired by the belief that volunteerism can change the pace and nature of development and the idea that everyone can give their time and energy to improve the lives of millions of others.

Under the aegis of the United Nations Development Programme, UNV seeks global recognition of volunteers contributing to peace and development, ensures the integration of volunteerism into development programmes, and promotes the increasing mobilization of volunteers with diverse profiles.

The role of UNV varies from place to place: they help organize and cover elections, they support humanitarian and peacekeeping projects, they are involved in various social, political or economic development programmes, they make volunteerism a form of mutual support within communities and they provide invaluable added value through their wide range of expertise.

UNV and Sustainable Development Goals

In an era of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the relevance of UNV is all the more pronounced. Indeed, UNV's mandate is closely aligned with the global development agenda.

Indeed, volunteer modalities and UNV initiatives are expanding development opportunities. In addition, UNV promotes the recognition of volunteer groups and programmes worldwide and their integration into the post-2015 development agenda. Finally, the creation of volunteer-friendly environments stimulates civic engagement and participation in local governance.

The theme of inclusion

For International Volunteer Day 2019, UNV has chosen to focus on the theme: "Volunteers for an inclusive future", highlighting SDG 10 and the pursuit of equality - including inclusion - through volunteerism.

Volunteering offers people, especially those who are often excluded, the opportunity to have a concrete impact on their own lives and to play a constructive role in their communities by giving their time and skills.

UN Volunteers in Mauritius

UN Volunteers play a key role in development by linking institutional and national initiatives, community action and individuals on the ground. They are actively involved in the planning of programmes and projects, in the efforts to carry them out and in the final stages of monitoring and evaluation.

As part of this programme, two volunteers are stationed in Port-Louis, Mauritius. Faisal Shaikh is an Indian UN Volunteer who has been working for the World Health Organization (WHO) since October 2017. As a UNV-International Specialist on health system, his main role is to lead and coordinate the support to improve Health system Strengthening and achieve Universal health coverage. His role focuses on supporting and strengthening national capacities to address key health systems components, covering governance/strategic planning and policy dialogue; access to medicines and health products; health workforce; health financing; health information and service delivery. Specifically, he handles the policies and programme on health and biennium support to MOH on health systems programme of WHO. Some of the work that has been done include undertaking health systems assessment of Mauritius, developing sector strategy plan on heath, developing national policies and strategies on blood safety, developing national health accounts for Mauritius, undertaking capacity building exercise based on need on various aspects of health.

UNV programme is also supporting the mobility of volunteers. Ramatoulaye Moussa Mazou, a native from Niger and  volunteer based in the UNDP office in Madagascar, was made available to the UNDP Mauritius office for a period of four months. As a communications specialist, Ramatoulaye is providing support in the development of communication and partnership strategy, but also in the production of audiovisual media, editorial content and reporting.

Raphaelle Godts works for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Originally from Belgium, she settled in Mauritius a few months ago. She is a support agent for the projects of the Global Maritime Crime Programme in the Indian Ocean. This programme aims to support local actors at each stage of the criminal justice chain. This involves technical, material and infrastructural support at the level of law enforcement, prosecution and detention. Raphaelle Godts is responsible for reviewing the region's legislation for possible reforms, organizing training for coastguards, prosecutors, lawyers and judges, analysing statistical data on maritime crime in the Indian Ocean and developing new project proposals.

International Volunteer Day

Today is not only the UNV day, it is the day of all volunteers who, on the ground and in organizations, whether multilateral, bilateral or national, non-governmental or government-supported, engage in development projects of great concern to them.

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