Volunteers leading locally-owned climate action

Around the world, volunteers are leading efforts to map and monitor climate change-related environmental risks such as air, soil and water quality. Their efforts need to be recognized and supported in order to drive and promote locally-owned resilience building and climate action as part of an all-of-society approach. 

Approximately one billion people are engaging in voluntary action globally.  Their activities range from delivering services, preparing and responding to disasters and providing technical assistance such as in mapping and monitoring climate and environmental data.

The growing environmental awareness, often enabled by powerful and cheap new mobile and open technologies, is further triggering new data collection and monitoring efforts by volunteers. 

In Darfur, Sudan, for instance,  a project worked with volunteers to assess water levels, provide basic services, and advocate for a holistic approach to managing the local environment. These volunteers play invaluable ‘connective’, ‘collaborative’ and ‘inclusive’ roles - linking communities with government institutions and improving relations between communities that share resources.

As part of the 2018 State of the World’s Volunteerism Report (SWVR) project,  UNV has published a Policy Brief discussing how volunteering can, with the right support, drive efforts to promote locally-owned resilience building and climate action.

The Brief presents evidence showing how in addition to providing valuable data, volunteering can be transformative for volunteers and communities through raising awareness, promoting norms of trust and cooperation within and between communities, and harnessing the creative energy of youth for climate action.

The Brief further provides policy recommendations for governments, UN Agencies and civil society on how to create an environment in which volunteerism can capacitate communities and every individual, including the vulnerable and most marginalized, to become agents of change.