[Dateline: New York | Author: iSeek/UN Volunteers]
To track the time environmental volunteers worldwide spend volunteering in the six months between World Environment Day on 5 June and International Volunteer Day on 5 December, the UN Volunteers programme (UNV) launched a global campaign Volunteering for our Planet.
"Taken on their own, a few hours of effort by an individual volunteer might not look like very much," said Flavia Pansieri, UNV Executive Coordinator. "But our 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."
In the first two weeks of the campaign alone, thousands of volunteers already registered more than 400,000 hours of volunteer activities on the campaign web site, taking place on environmental issues, sustainable development, and in support of adapting to or mitigating climate change.
Suzanna in Brazil is studying the impact of land use on indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest, Fogaing from Cameroon is doing online research on renewable energy for environmental organizations, and Kaleem Athar in India is planting trees. These are just three examples.
The enthusiasm and commitment of the volunteers is demonstrating that people want to do their bit to help save the planet. Volunteers started the global environmental movement and they are an essential part of the solution to climate change. Everybody can volunteer for our planet, including United Nations staff members.
The countries with the most hours registered so far are India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Philippines. The total number of hours will be presented to delegates in Copenhagen, adding a strong message to the UN-wide campaign to 'Seal the Deal' for a binding, fair and sustainable climate agreement.
"People want to help and they are taking positive action to do something about this issue," Ms. Pansieri said. "As world leaders meet in Copenhagen, we want them to recognize that the solution lies not only with governments and industry, but with every one of us, and that every hour counts."
Everyone is invited to join the campaign.
Make your hours of Volunteering for our Planet count, too, and register them here.