Ladies and gentlemen,
UN colleagues and fellow delegates,
Who are the first responders after a disaster happens?
Who are behind some of major global movements such ban the landmine, environment, climate change, animal right, civil rights, anti-apartheid, anti-war etc.
Who is the likely person to help a distressed neighbour?
Today is the day to celebrate their activism, value, sacrifices and contribution to societies and the world at large.
It is indeed my great pleasure to join you today to celebrate International Volunteer Day (IVD) in Baku. Let me offer a special welcome to the Azerbaijani volunteers, in particular, on this special day.
In 2001, at the first international celebration of volunteer day, the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan delivered his message saying: “At the heart of volunteerism are the ideals of service and solidarity and the belief that together we can make the world a better place.”
His message on volunteerism was the ultimate expression of how volunteers are truly an inspiration for all of us in the development sector and what United Nations all about – service, solidarity, and determination to leave a better planet for next generations.
Today on behalf of UN system in Azerbaijan, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all volunteers in Azerbaijan who serve tirelessly to create a better future for the country.
And thanks to all the national and international institutions that value, encourage and support volunteerism in the country.
This year, IVD is not only about celebrating volunteerism but also paying special tribute to volunteers working towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
National volunteers have an immense potential to be a part of the solution to build more sustainable future for all.
UNV in Azerbaijan catalyses volunteer engagement among government, business, NGO and international organizations to enhance the scale, scope and impact of volunteering on the 2030 Agenda.
More than one billion people participate in volunteering worldwide, and combined efforts make a workforce that is equivalent to 109 million full-time workers.
Not only do volunteer efforts make a significant contribution to the economy – estimated at around 2.5% global GDP, but the nature of the volunteer work helps by increasing efficiencies and effectiveness of other investments – which is great news for sustainability.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of the Government of Azerbaijan and other stakeholders in recognizing the potential of volunteerism.
One of the outcomes is the Law “On Voluntary Activities” adopted in 2009, which defined the rights of Azerbaijani volunteers and outlined the responsibilities of the Government and volunteer-utilizing organizations supporting volunteerism.
This is positive development not only because it improved the regulatory environment for institutions and its volunteers, but also because it demonstrated that the Government successfully advocated on this policy and legislative issues.
During the last eight years, we have seen great strides in volunteering action through several local and international, cultural and sporting events while mobilizing thousands of volunteers. It shows that the ministries and agencies recognize the added value of citizen-led approaches in tackling national priorities.
This year, Azerbaijan also highlighted the role of volunteers through the official submission of the National Situation Analysis (NSA) on volunteerism for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development whose findings will feed into the UN Secretary-General’s report at a global meeting in 2020.
It was the first submission among CIS countries.
Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen,
Volunteers are an important part of the picture.
Along with the continuous support and investment from the Government of Azerbaijan and its partners, Volunteerism can go even further to strengthen society and boost efforts towards the achievement of the SDGs.
This event is only out of the many of occasions on recognizing and appreciating of volunteers and its contribution in Azerbaijan.
United Nations in Azerbaijan looks forward to engaging with all partners to support this important movement.
I would also like to thank all our partners for their support in organizing this event and ADA University for hosting us.
I would like end my remarks with this quote from Aristotle who said: “the essence of life is to serve others and do good.”