Dr. Elsie Laurence-Chounoune: International Volunteer Day Celebration

Dec 9, 2014


Dr. Elsie Laurence-Chounoune
UNDP Deputy Resident Representative

 International Volunteer Day Celebration (IVD) by United Nations Jamaica in collaboration with Plant Jamaica , 9th December, 2014

  • Honourable Ronald Thwaites, Minister of Education
  • Ms. Walker, Principal, Holy Family Primary School
  • Ms. Shirley Davis, Director of American International School of Kingston,
  • Mr. Andrew Bruce, Plant Jamaica
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,




A very good morning to you all. On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme in Jamaica, it is a pleasure for me to bring greetings on the occasion of the 2014 International Volunteer Day, commonly referred to as IVD.


Each year, on or around December 5, we celebrate the efforts of volunteers and organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life in our communities.  December 5 is a time for sharing the values of volunteerism. It is the day for us to pause to acknowledge our volunteers’ impact on a local, national and global scale. It is a time to applaud expressions of people’s participation and communal engagement, aimed at achieving the common world vision we all share.


In the words of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “The humane impulse to assist and empower others that motivates volunteers, rebounds back to them in the form of an enriched life. Volunteers offer life skills while expanding their own know-how; they empower communities while earning a sense of personal fulfilment at having made a difference in our world.”

On 17 December1985, this noble ideal of Volunteerism inspired the General Assembly and Governments worldwide to annually observe 5 December as the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development. On the International Year of Volunteers, in 2001, the General Assembly adopted a set of recommendations on ways in which Governments and the United Nations system could support volunteering.


Today, we join the Secretary-General, the Holy Family fraternity and the Government of Jamaica in supporting the more than 6,300 UN Volunteers and the 11,000 UN Online Volunteers from 130 countries. They have helped millions of people to make change happen by giving them a voice in sustainable development and peace efforts across the globe. Remarkably, 80 per cent of our volunteers come from developing countries, and more than 30 per cent volunteer within their own countries.

The 2014 theme: People’s Participation. Make change happen, volunteer! now resonates across the globe. Today we can proudly affirm that change through volunteerism, is also underway here in Jamaica. Our United Nations Country Office in Jamaica has partnered with Plant Jamaica, the Holy Family Primary School (HFPS), and the American International School in Kingston (AISK) to celebrate IVD 2014 with youth as the focus.  In Jamaica the youth cohort falls between the ages of 15 – 24, significantly representing 19% of the total population. The implications for the labour force are challenging but the tremendous potential for youth participation through volunteerism, also provides us with engaging alternatives.

We congratulate HFPS and AISK for accepting our invitation to collaborate and participate. We look forward to school-changing activities such as the setting up of a model Home Garden or Life Yard with drip irrigation system, the painting of surrounding walls with inspiring murals, the new landscaping with ornamental plants and the planned demonstrations on environmental awareness, including garbage re-cycling. We also congratulate volunteers from our UN agencies, from Plant Jamaica and the High School children from AISK who will participate alongside school children and parents of the Holy Family Primary school.


Through today’s activities, we hope to promote volunteers as potential partners and contributors to the development of Jamaica. We aim to increase public awareness about youth volunteerism and its positive impact on economic and social development. The vision is one of enthusiastic school children creating new linkages and exchanges between schools as they embrace volunteerism as a solid social value in their lives. Their participation will teach them the importance of sustainable agriculture while reinforcing the concept of “use what you have.”


We also wish to support the Government’s efforts in making Jamaica’s environment greener and much more climate friendly, including through more targeted recycling initiatives, such as the reduction in the use of plastics in various sectors. The video presentation by the students of AISK later today illustrates the effort of young people to promote a friendly learning environment. Today’s event is an excellent starting point for a Jamaica where children and youth will work together and volunteer for a strong and green Jamaica.


Let me conclude with words of gratitude from our Secretary General:  

International Volunteer Day is a chance to thank the many individuals who act with this spirit of giving, and to encourage others to follow their example. When an earthquake destroys homes, volunteers prove that human solidarity is shatterproof. When looters aim for cultural property, volunteers safeguard community treasures. When development is lagging, volunteers help enable people to lift themselves out of poverty”.

Together, let us partner with the UNV to make International Volunteer Day 2014 in Jamaica, a most memorable and rewarding occasion. Thank you!

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Jamaica 
Go to UNDP Global