UNV involvement in this priority area will fall into three focus areas: a) access to energy and climate change mitigation; b) sustainable livelihoods including food security and climate change adaptation; and c) natural resource management and biodiversity conservation.
A number of factors underpin UNV initiatives in this priority area. These factors include the global recognition of volunteerism’s role in environmental protection, a number of General Assembly resolutions, and the UNDP Executive Board’s call for UNV to contribute to the global environmental and climate change agenda.9 Historically, the global environment movement was based on volunteerism and was driven by individual volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations from all areas and levels of society, and continues to this day, with the added urgency to address climate change. The Johannesburg 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD or Rio+10), in its call for major groups to participate in implementation, specifically singles out volunteer groups.10
In the area of access to renewable and efficient energy and climate change mitigation, UNV will focus on micro-level climate change mitigation measures. The most important of these measures is enabling the poor and marginalized communities to access renewable energy. This includes the promotion, introduction and use of renewable energy sources, fuel efficient cooking stoves and waste management practices. UNV will aim to ensure that poor and marginalized communities be given access to energy while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from energy inefficient practices. UNV will achieve this by complementing the efforts of development partners by incorporating the important elements of community mobilization, self-help and self-replication. The focus will be on improved livelihoods, including integrated community-centred eco-tourism approaches that promote the well-being of targeted beneficiaries for sustained and sustainable development.
In the area of food security and climate change adaptation, it is critical to tackle this challenge though community-centred approaches. For this reason, the international community is focusing on the emerging practice of community-based adaptation (CBA), which UNV has been actively supporting. UN Volunteers continue to mobilize community members for voluntary action in community-based environmental risk assessments, coping and adaptation practices to design, formulate and implement local community initiatives by local people themselves.
In this focus area, UNV will support the efforts of other development actors to address food security of those who are vulnerable to climate change, variability and extreme events. UN Volunteers will connect communities, especially farmers, women and community leaders, while helping to integrate community volunteerism into learning and practicing. UNV will support the training of local farmers in sustainable agricultural practices who in turn will train other farmers and mobilize community volunteers – thereby multiplying development results through community-to-community learning.