Volunteerism as an essential way to achieve Sustainable Development
UNV’s vision is of a world where volunteerism is recognized and integrated as a means of engaging people in sustainable peace and development. Accordingly, UNV contributes to advocating for volunteerism in the 2030 Agenda as a powerful cross-cutting means of implementation.
As the secretariat for the plan of action to integrate volunteering into sustainable peace and development under the 2030 Agenda, designated by the General Assembly, UNV is strengthening its convening and facilitating role for multi-stakeholder partnerships for volunteerism and the Global Goals. One way to do so is through enhanced partnerships with the UN Regional Commissions to feed into the existing review and monitoring processes for the 2030 Agenda, involving UN Member States, UN entities, civil society, volunteer-involving organizations, academia and the private sector.
From March to May 2018, UNV engaged with the Regional Fora for Sustainable Development of the UN Regional Commissions. Through this engagement, UNV promoted the achievement of two main outcomes at the regional level – promotion of volunteerism and engagement of UN Volunteers to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Regional Fora are convened by the respective UN Regional Commissions in support of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including its follow-up and review process and in order to provide regional inputs to the High Level Political Forum.
As a pre-Forum event, most regions held a workshop on Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) with the participation of UN Member States who are due to present during this year's High-Level Political Forum. Forty-seven countries are due to present their VNR this year.
At the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in late March, UNV made an intervention during the panel discussion on national perspectives, progress and partnerships for the implementation of the SDGs. Here, UNV highlighted the importance of engaging volunteers in preparation for the VNRs, as well as developing transformative partnerships through the engagement of local volunteers in disaster relief and recovery.
These volunteers are worth recognizing because volunteers speak not to an agenda but to real issues; because they are the closest to the communities and bring a new level of granularity to the discourse. Moreover, ESCAP and UNV are collaborating to promote inclusiveness for sustainable development by engaging volunteers and young people in regional and sub-regional consultations on the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific.
In late April, UNV engaged in sessions at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). During a special session on VNRs, UNV spoke about the important role that volunteers have in the 2030 Agenda, particularly for data collection at multiple levels to strengthen the monitoring of progress.
This was followed in May by the Africa Regional Forum convened by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), which offered UNV the opportunity to validate the potential to further strengthen partnerships with UNDP and UN Member States in Africa to facilitate recognition of volunteerism in national, sub-regional and regional initiatives for sustainable development.
The representative of Jordan acknowledged the support provided by UNV in the development of its VNR in 2017. Oman also acknowledged the important role that young volunteers play in advocacy campaigns in one of the plenary sessions, with the example of volunteers conveying health related messages to communities in Oman. --highlights from ESCWA.
At the UN Economic Commissions for Europe (ECE) and for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in early March and mid-April respectively, UNV organized side events on how to integrate data on volunteering in VNRs as a mechanism for citizen engagement and measurement for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Both events, jointly organized with the International Labour Organization (ILO), provided the global overview of the status of volunteering with the latest statistics, review of volunteer contributions to specific SDGs and examples of how to collect official data on volunteering and facilitate consultations, particularly at sub-national levels based on the whole-of-society approach.
Highlighting the role of young people in shaping the 2030 Agenda, the representative of Mexico said volunteers are the "fuel of the 2030 Agenda". --highlights from ECLAC.
The side event at ECLAC was co-organized by the Office of the President of the Republic of Mexico and TECHO International, showcasing tripartite partnerships among government, UN, and civil society. It bore the title Recognizing the whole-of-society approach to the SDGs through the integration of volunteerism data in VNRs. More than 40 participants from youth organizations, civil society organizations, UN Member States and UN entities gathered for the session, acknowledging the growing importance of people-centred approaches to tackle development challenges and to fully implement the 2030 Agenda.
The representative of Mexico presented the national platform "Voluntariado Generación 2030" that gathers volunteers across the country for the SDGs.
ILO emphasized the importance of measuring the impact of volunteering at the country level, which helps understand needs of the society, and added that over the past 10 years, 10 out of 75 countries that measured the impact of volunteering at least once were from the Latin America and the Caribbean region.
TECHO International gave the example of its concrete support to SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) by engaging more than 7,000 youth volunteers in over 621 communities in 19 countries in the region and emphasized that volunteering helps fight against gender inequality, particularly at the community level.
For more information on the Plan of Action for volunteerism in the 2030 Agenda, visit: https://www.unv.org/planofaction.