13 February 2017
Through its alliances with multi-national companies and business networks, UNV has been applying corporate volunteering for decades to meet the talent needs of the United Nations. Growing numbers of private sector partners are joining forces with UNV through onsite and online corporate volunteering and by backing UNV projects and programmes.
Mohammad lham Akbar Junior, National UN Youth Volunteer, discussing with his colleague in the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Indonesia Country Office. (UNICEF, 2017)

Now is the time to mobilize the global business community as never before. The case is clear. Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals will improve the environment for doing business and building markets. Trillions of dollars in public and private funds are to be redirected towards the SDGs, creating huge opportunities for responsible companies to deliver solutions.


United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, speaking at the United Nations Private Sector Forum, September 2015


The private sector and the Sustainable Development Goals


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved without better ways of working and greater cooperation. Multi-stakeholder partnerships will be necessary, not the least of which will be with the private sector. The private sector has a wealth of knowledge, expertise and implementation capacity that must be leveraged to find solutions.


Through its alliances with multi-national companies and business networks, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme has been applying corporate volunteering for decades to meet the talent needs of the United Nations System. Growing numbers of private sector partners are joining forces with UNV through onsite and online corporate volunteering and by backing UNV projects and programmes.


UNV works with the private sector


UNV Corporate Onsite Volunteer Scheme


Through UNV, corporations have been sending their staff to volunteer on short-term field assignments since 1995. These experienced professionals have offered managerial and technical advice to companies and industries in developing countries and emerging economies and have volunteered in areas as diverse as food processing, the environment, marketing and information technologies.


Corporate volunteers have lent a hand around the globe. In Lebanon, private sector volunteers helped women’s food cooperatives access larger consumer markets. A biologist and food production engineer spent weeks with a women’s group in Morocco to analyse how to improve their production of a coffee-like drink they make from date pits.


Corporate support to UNV projects and programmes


Companies directly fund volunteer-based projects through financial contributions, by sponsoring volunteer experts or young talents from the UNV roster. This further enhances the impact of UN initiatives and strengthens volunteering as a means to source talents from the private sector to find development solutions.


UNV Online Volunteering service


The UNV Online Volunteering service, in particular, has successfully collaborated with private sector partners. Recognizing the transformative power of online volunteering, many global companies invite—and make space for—qualified, motivated employees to contribute their time and skills as online volunteers. Companies also promote the UNV Online Volunteering service among their NGO networks and help organizations. All partners agree: online volunteering is fast, easy and most of all effective.


To learn more about the UNV Online Volunteering service, contact info@onlinevolunteering.org.


Our ‘Innovation Space’


To enhance and combine the potential of both online and onsite volunteering with the problem-solving skills of private sector partners and the needs of the development community for making progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, UNV has launched a pilot project called ‘Innovation Space.’ Working together with private sector partners and UNDP, UNFPA and UNHCR, Innovation Space is tackling urgent real-life problems.


The Innovation Space creates a platform for issues to be defined and analysed jointly, and for solutions to be co-created through an impact challenge that takes advantage of the skills and expertise of a range of partners from the private sector, United Nations, civil society and Member States. This pilot project will be monitored and evaluated, and provided the findings are favourable, this service line will offer a major channel through which corporate volunteering can be leveraged by the United Nations System as a significant resource for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.


Volunteerism and the private sector going forward


As the world comes to understand the urgency of accelerating development progress, UNV looks toward finding more creative ways to move the process forward, make it more inclusive and secure long-lasting results. The United Nations General Assembly, via several resolutions (70/129, 66/67 and 67/138), sees a primary role for volunteerism in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and welcomes the expansion of private sector involvement in this. Member states are encouraged to engage the private sector so that corporate volunteering and employee volunteer activities can expand.


Among the many ways that UNV works to make private sector involvement a reality, the organization is taking part in some of the most important worldwide efforts in this field. UNV is a founding stakeholder of IMPACT 2030, a global private sector-led collaboration that mobilizes employee volunteers to advance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. UNV also collaborates with the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. The Compact calls on companies to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take actions that advance societal goals.