UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday said that "volunteers work tirelessly to create a better future for all," and "volunteers help to eliminate poverty and reduce the impact of disasters."
In his message to mark the International Volunteer Day, the secretary-general said, "They contribute to national well-being and show global solidarity at times of crisis. We see this in action all over the world, most notably over the past year as volunteers have provided shelter and wide-ranging support to millions of refugees forced from their homes by armed conflict and persecution."
"In Haiti, we saw the efforts of thousands during the recent floods, helping to re-build devastated communities," Ban noted. "In Sri Lanka, volunteers were instrumental in achieving the great feat of eradicating malaria. In Mali and Colombia, UN Volunteers are among those working to achieve peace."
Volunteering gives the most marginalized people in society an opportunity to get involved in the decision-making process," he said. "Volunteers can use their voices to shape conversations, question social norms and promote the values we all hold dear. Volunteers are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals."
The secretary-general extended his "deepest gratitude" to the more than 6,700 United Nations Volunteers, 12,000 United Nations Online Volunteers and the one billion community volunteers worldwide. "You are all instrumental to the future of people and the planet. Your commitment and passion can act as inspiration to us all," he said.
"On this International Volunteer Day, let us recognize the immense value of the world's volunteers," he said.
"As they lend a hand to others, let us give volunteers a hand by applauding their global citizenship and their commitment to building a future of peace, prosperity and dignity for all," Ban added.
International Volunteer Day, which falls on Dec. 5, is originally and still known as International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development. It is is an international observance designated by the UN General Assembly since December 1985.
It offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make their contributions visible -- at local, national and international levels -- to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of anti-poverty targets which was replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals by the end of 2015.