Indians Lead in 'Voluteering for Our Planet' Campaign

Dec 3, 2009

03 December 2009, New Delhi – Indians are leading as people around the world are volunteering hundreds of thousands of hours to tackle climate change and send a message to world leaders that everyone is part of the solution, in the run-up to the International Volunteer Day on 05 December 2009.

A new website, has drawn thousands of visitors to register the time they have spent as environmental volunteers since World Environment Day, 05 June, and the time they will spend until 05 December, the annual day celebrating volunteerism.

Since the website started a month ago, people have registered more than one million hours of volunteer effort of which the leading countries are India and Pakistan with over 53,000 hours and 41,000 hours volunteered, respectively. Kenya, Nigeria and Philippines follow. The website is part of a campaign by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, which is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to promote a successful outcome at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, opening on 07 December. "Our climate is changing and everybody needs to get involved to help us cope,” said Flavia Pansieri, UNV Executive Coordinator. “Volunteers started the global environmental movement and we are an essential part of the solution to climate change. So our theme for International Volunteer Day is ‘Volunteering for our Planet’ and we would like you to join us. We can send a strong signal to the Copenhagen conference that people want to help and can be involved as volunteers."

Volunteers are taking action across many areas in India, of which environmental education takes the top spot. Other areas in which Indians have come forward are water and sanitation, climate change and energy, recycling of plastic products, energy-efficient equipment, waste and pollution, and biodiversity. Take Rakesh for example who is sensitizing friends and college students to protect trees and prevent the wastage of power, water and wood, or Jyotiraj who is working among natural disaster affected communities in Orissa, building up a knowledge base on issues of global climate change and community resilience building mechanisms. Then there are many like Parul who are promoting the use of bio-degradable materials and the recycling of plastic products.

Apart from individual volunteerism a lot of corporate houses, civil society organisations and educational institutions have also taken initiatives to sensitise and mobilise the masses through launching drives like the Yamuna river cleanup, photography competitions and various other similar campaigns for the International Volunteer Day.

The campaign is demonstrating that the combined actions of thousands of volunteers around the world add up to a tremendous contribution to the global effort to address climate change. Welcoming the huge participation from India, Patrice Coeur-Bizot, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, said: "The heart of the UNV programme is the conviction that voluntary action by many millions of people is a vastly under recognised and underutilised resource, an investment into the future that if fully harnessed could strengthen efforts in tackling development challenges worldwide."

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Priyanka Khanna 

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