No barriers of time or place: the UNV Online Volunteering service as a global solution for SDGs

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The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, through its Online Volunteering service, featured volunteering in the age of digital revolution at the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development that took place in Bonn on 1-3 March 2017.

UNV online volunteering at global festival of ideas 2017
A UNV Programme Associate at the UNV's Online Volunteering service explains the main features of the Online Volunteering platform to visitors during the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development held in Bonn on 1-3 March 2017. (photothek/Ina Fassbender, 2017)

The event, labelled “the world’s first playable policy conference,” brought together leading thinkers, policy-makers and civil society, together with gaming experts and policy simulators, to discuss critical ideas and showcase innovative solutions to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


UNV has been at the forefront of quality innovation and radical ideas when it comes to the definition and implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


As part of UNV’s contribution to defining the Agenda, UN Volunteers in over 30 countries conducted the MyWorld survey to ensure that the voices of marginalized people and disconnected and remote communities were heard.


The role of UNV in the implementation of the Agenda through innovation is not less decisive. While UN Volunteers in the field serve in more than 120 countries, the reach of the UNV Online Volunteering service is even broader. Online Volunteering, due to its online nature, has no barriers of time or place. Through this platform, individuals and organizations tackle the world's most important issues together -via the Internet.



Enthusiastic participants stopped at the Online Volunteering booth to catch a glimpse of the potential the platform offers to NGOs, UN agencies and public institutions. UNV’s Online Volunteering service provides organizations with access to a global volunteer pool of more than 500,000 people and a breadth of expertise and skills that is unparalleled by any other volunteer service in the world.


Visitors experienced the online journey of developing organizations worldwide that carry out large projects with the support of UN Online Volunteers.


At the heart of the Festival was the idea of transforming the way stakeholders interact with one another, following the holistic approach set by the Agenda 2030: the UN, governments, civil society and the private sector must work together to find innovative solutions to solve the world’s most pressing problems in a comprehensive way.


In the words of Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign, “we warmly welcome our colleagues of the UNV programme to the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development. The Online Volunteering service drives innovation to advance SDGs implementation, and this is the kind of long-term solution that participants in the Festival will have the opportunity to experience first-hand.”


However big or small the task or the non-profit organization, the UNV’s online volunteering platform offers an enormous pool of talent ready to accelerate peace and development projects.


In the words of Elise Bouvet, Manager of the service, “the potential of Online Volunteering is limitless. In a widely connected and rapidly changing world, this platform is a perfect example of a global problem-solving innovation that allows People to help our Planet and support Peace and Prosperity through Partnerships,” just what the Agenda 2030 is all about.



Every year, 12,000 UN Online Volunteers, 60% of them from developing countries, complete 20,000 assignments online through the UNV Online Volunteering service. Organizations and volunteers engaged in online volunteering represent 187 countries, and satisfaction with online assignments runs at more than 90 percent for both organizations and UN Online Volunteers.