Rio+20 delegation visits initiative helping rebuild community through volunteering
Rio de Janeiro, 21 June 2012: On the first day of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, Flavia Pansieri, Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, and Dirk Niebel, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, visited the favela area of Canta Galo, together with German State Secretary Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz, and Joan Clos, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
The Pacifying Police Units (UPP) Social initiative of the city of Rio de Janeiro in partnership with UN-Habitat aims to improve urban, social and economic integration in urban areas. The initiative includes volunteerism components that are implemented in partnership with UNV.
Fifty-seven youth who come from the ‘comunidades pacificadas’ (pacified communities) support the project as UN Volunteers by gathering information on the needs of the community, for example in electricity and sanitary facilities, and provide this information to the public authorities.
“There are 57 UN Volunteers, all from Canta Galo itself, engaged in the renewal of their own community,” Flavia Pansieri explains. “This is yet another example of people power driving real change. UN Volunteers, along with thousands of others, serve in areas of their professional expertise out of free will, solidarity and personal commitment. Together with communities around the world, volunteers support social, economic and environmental transformation every day, making a positive difference in the world in which we live.”
“At a mega-conference like this, it is important to tackle the reality of poverty and underdevelopment”, said Minister Dirk Niebel after the visit. “Poverty is also to be found in successful emerging economies. Brazil is making distinct progress to pacify favelas and strengthen civil rights and local communities. The commitment of the many volunteer helpers has really impressed me”.
Although conditions are still difficult, Rio de Janeiro’s social initiative in partnership with UN-Habitat, and the crucial involvement of UN Volunteers from their own communities, has greatly improved the living conditions in Canta Galo. It is now a pacified community where people can go about their daily activities with no fear of violence.
Contact: Jennifer Stapper, UNV Chief of Communications, Jennifer[dot]Stapper[at]unv[dot]org, +49 15201522181.