UN community volunteers in honour of Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Tuesday, 23 July 2019 | New York | Department of Global Communications (DGC) 

In honour of Nelson Mandela’s birthday, the UN community in New York and around the world followed the call to “take action, inspire change” and engaged in public service activities for their communities on the Nelson Mandela International Day, 18 July.

In New York, the Department of Global Communications (DGC), the Office of the President of the General Assembly and the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations partnered with the New York City Mayor’s Office for International Affairs and the Melting Pot Foundation to engage UN staff and the diplomatic community at the Brownsville Community Culinary Center (BCCC).

Through its eatery, the BCCC is committed to training local chefs and offering healthy, sustainable and accessible cuisine to residents of one of the most marginalized neighborhoods in New York.

More than 80 UN staff and diplomatic community volunteers, as well as partners from the Mayor’s Office, helped with the preparation of lunch and ice cream. They served them to community members in the spirit of public service legacy of Nelson Mandela. The volunteers were welcomed by a rousing drum performance, to summon the spirit of Madiba. To round out the event, the South African volunteers lead the group in a spontaneous musical tribute to Nelson Mandela.

"Our visit to Brownsville felt like a true ray of sunshine in unleashing such spontaneous warmth and joy among all participants," said Alison Smale, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications. "It is worth remembering that we do not have far to go from HQ to feel the inequalities that the UN tries to alleviate around the world."

The volunteer activity this year was linked to the ongoing DGC-led ActNow campaign, which calls on individuals to help tackle climate change through everyday actions. Sustainable food choices – reducing meat consumption and emphasizing diverse vegetarian ingredients – can make a big difference in limiting climate change. A single beef burger requires an average of 1,695 liters (447.77 gallons) of water, and wasted food is responsible for roughly 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

In the lead-up to the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September 2019, the ActNow campaign is partnering with leading chefs, culinary entrepreneurs and non-profits to highlight sustainable food choices and encourage individual action for a healthier world.