About UNV

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. It works with partners to integrate qualified, highly motivated and well supported UN Volunteers into development programming and promote the value and global recognition of volunteerism. UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and reports to the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board. The United Nations General Assembly created UNV in 1970, with an initial mandate to provide qualified and motivated volunteers for the United Nations System in support of peace and development in operational countries.

Over nearly five decades, the scope of UNV’s mandate has expanded, driven by a constantly changing global environment and wider recognition of the value of volunteerism. A series of UN decisions now direct UNV activities and results to also focus on youth engagement and on demonstrating how integrating volunteering in peace and development projects and programmes can widen and deepen impact.

To make it happen, the UNV Strategic Framework, 2018-2021 seeks to leverage the power of volunteerism and volunteers as a means of implementation and people engagement for attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNV Strategic Framework, 2018-2021  Download PDF

Volunteering and South-South Cooperation

Volunteering and South-South Cooperation share common ideals that make them perfect partners: solidarity, respect and equality. Both have an opportunity to derive mutual benefit from their alliance. The landscape of international volunteering, like that of international cooperation, has changed immensely in the past decades. Today’s programmes are no longer limited to the participation of traditional donor countries of the North. Inspirational examples can be found in UNV’s flagship report, the triennial State of the World’s Volunteerism Report, which was published in 2018 and highlights many impactful volunteer initiatives strengthening communities resilience and their contributions to South-South Cooperation.

Knowledge exchange, Capacity building & Empowerment

UNV knows that individual and collective voluntary action strengthens social cohesion and trust which contribute to sustainable development by and for citizens. UNV facilitates exchanges through the mobilization of UN Volunteers, 81 percent of whom come from the Global South. Fifty percent of the UN Volunteers deployed by UNV are women. Volunteering, as a potential promoter of social inclusion can support gender equality and women’s empowerment in different contexts, including through South-South Cooperation. For instance, through the Asia Youth Volunteer Exchange Programme, UNV helped countries from Africa and Asia to exchange knowledge, skills and build national capacities in the fields of sustainable agriculture and private sector development.

UNV also enables online volunteering, including the setup of online volunteering platforms that can be used to strengthen collaboration.The digital revolution has changed the nature of volunteering, opening opportunities for those who may not have previously volunteered. There is now virtual (online) volunteering— using the Internet, offsite from the organization or the groups of people assisted. These new forms of volunteering can be particularly enabling for those with disabilities that may limit mobility or those who may have only a few minutes to an hour a day for volunteering.

SDGs and Volunteerism

UNV is a partner of choice for articulating the role of volunteerism across development issues and the national achievement of the SDGs. UNV works with Member States and our partners to support all countries that wish to integrate the contributions of volunteers into their national SDG strategies. By combining volunteerism and South-South and triangular cooperation, together, UNV will achieve these goals.


On 29 January 2019, UNV and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) signed the first ever Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two organizations. This MoU is fortifying an already strong collaboration between both entities. In line with UNV’s Strategic Framework, this alliance sets an unprecedented opportunity for both organizations to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by promoting volunteerism and engaging volunteers for South-South and Triangular Cooperation. The MoU enables the continued promotion of UN Volunteers as a talent solution for the UN and its Member States, to further generate good practices and cutting-edge research and evidence on the contribution of volunteerism to South-South and Technical Cooperation.

Featured Publications

2018 Report of the Secretary-General UNV Featured Publications POM
December 2, 2019

2018 Report of the Secretary-General

UNV Featured Publications POM
December 2, 2019

2019 Engaging UNV, How to Host a UN Volunteer

UNV Featured Publications POM
December 2, 2019

2018 State of the World’s Volunteerism Report

UNV 2018 Annual Report UNV Featured Publications POM
December 2, 2019

UNV 2018 Annual Report