Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in addressing development challenges

The Peru Soy Voluntari@ Network: a model to replicate in the context of the new 2030 agenda

Soyvoluntario coverInvesting to establish an enabling volunteer environment, including a well-functioning volunteer infrastructure that engages stakeholders from different segments of society to facilitate volunteer opportunities, is a prerequisite to increase people's involvement in addressing peace and development challenges. Such a strengthened volunteer engagement bears an enormous potential to meet the ambitions of the new 2030 agenda.

During the last years, UNV has been supporting innovative approaches to managing volunteer infrastructure in Peru by facilitating the establishment of the SoyVoluntari@ National Network, a pioneer initiative aiming at cross-sectoral action and dialogue. The SoyVoluntari@ network model is an innovative reference for Latin America to create inclusive spaces and coordinate different actors engaged in volunteering.

The UNV report «Volunteer Entities Networks in Peru: Cross-sector collaboration in the "SoyVoluntari@" network model» (in Spanish: Redes de entidades de voluntariado en Peru: Cooperación transectorial en el modelo de redes "SoyVoluntari@") presents the methodology used for developing subnational volunteer networks within Peru, and explains how to replicate the model in other countries and contexts. The report examines the Network's methods of collaboration across sectors, describes how the network improves ways to engage volunteers in development processes, and shows how this can contribute to achieving the new global goals. The report also documents the contribution of SoyVoluntari@ in strengthening public policy and law making to mainstream volunteering as a development tool in Peru.

Tokyo Call to Action commits IVCO's efforts for the new 2030 agenda

Tokyo decl scrabbleThe 2015 annual Conference of International Volunteering Cooperation Organizations (IVCO), held in Tokyo, Japan, on 4-7 October 2015, right after the adoption of the new development agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), concluded with a Call to Action committing the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (FORUM) to support efforts to achieve the global goals through action at local, national and global levels.

The Call to Action focuses FORUM's commitment in seven key areas, including supporting and contributing to the UN Plan of Action for the integration of volunteerism in the next decade and beyond. The Plan of Action provides indeed a framework within which IVCO members and other organizations working with and through volunteers can take their engagement forward.

#Generation 2030: Torchbearers for the SDGs

20150927 gen2030 Closing-remarks-by--young-activ w400Young people, Member States' high-level representatives, civil society organizations and UN entities recognized the role of youth engagement in implementing and monitoring the 2030 Agenda at '#Generation 2030: Torchbearers for the SDGs', a youth-led High Level event held on 27 September 2015 during the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York. Participants sent out clear messages about the crucial role young people can and will play in achieving and localizing the recently adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Young people from all over the world have indeed contributed to the post-2015 process in an unprecedented way. Global and national youth organisations played a key role in mobilizing their networks and reaching out to local communities. Individual young people below 30 years of age were the main group of voters for the MY World survey, accounting for 76% (6.4 million of votes). UN Youth Volunteers facilitated this contribution in a number of countries. This is one of the results of UN Secretary-General's call on the UN Volunteers (UNV) programme, in his 2012 Five-Year Action Agenda, to create a youth volunteer modality, as well as of UN General Assembly Resolution 67/138 calling on all stakeholders and UN agencies to support youth volunteerism.

Agenda 2030 adopted - now it's time for volunteer action!

E-SDG-Poster A4 noc w250On 25 September 2015, the 2030 agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) became a reality.

There was great excitement in New York over the adoption of the new 2030 agenda during the post-2015 Sustainable Development Summit. Pope Francis, Malala Yousafzai with a group of girls from different countries, Heads of State from around the globe, civil society representatives and ordinary citizens witnessed the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that will focus sustainable development policies around the world in the next 15 years. Welcoming the new agenda, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon stressed that the true test of commitment to the new goals will be implementation, and called for a renewed global partnership (video).

Critical voices were also heard: Amnesty International's Secretary General Salil Shetty, for instance, urged the world community to address counterproductive policies and practices that exacerbate discrepancies and foster insecurity, if the promises of the new agenda are to be kept (video).

Thanks to the collective efforts of volunteer organizations, volunteer groups are mentioned as stakeholders in their own right in the Summit Outcome Document in the context of the means of implementation for the agenda. Read why volunteering matters for the SDGs and what roles volunteers can play in the new framework.

What is the unique contribution of volunteering to international development?

VSO and the Institute of Development Studies are delighted to announce the publication of the IDS Bulletin* 'What is the unique contribution of volunteering to international development?', based on the research findings from the Valuing Volunteering research.

It reviews the findings from Valuing Volunteering in the context of broader academic debates on these issues and covers a variety of different themes such as; what's different about how volunteers work, the impact of politics and ethnicity on volunteering, the dynamics of formal and informal volunteering, and, how participatory practice can strengthen the role of volunteering in sustainable development.

You can download the full Bulletin or individual chapters at: https://www.ids.ac.uk/publication/what-is-the-unique-contribution-of-volunteering-to-international-development. From January 2016 all Bulletin articles will be open access.

One of the peer reviewers for the Bulletin, Professor Matt Baillie Smith, has also written a blog post, 'Volunteering for Development Research: time for a rethink,' to coincide with its publication, as part of the blog series on the IDS website. Please visit the IDS website to read Matt's post and contributions from our other bloggers.

* The IDS Bulletins are academic journals that bring together the latest thinking and research on development issues, to inform the work of development practitioners, policy makers and researchers. The Bulletin is the flagship publication of the Institute of Development Studies.

Integrating volunteering in the next decade and beyond

At the upcoming seventieth session of the UN General Assembly, the Secretary-General will report to Member States on progress on volunteerism since 2012, and present a proposed Plan of Action for the next decade and beyond (2016-2030).

The Plan of Action aims at integrating volunteering in peace and development policies and programmes through a strategic and collective long-term approach that matches the period of SDG implementation. It provides a frame through which civil society, the UN and other stakeholders can support and leverage the potential of volunteerism worldwide.

Read the Plan of Action dedicated webpage

Why volunteerism is key for the SDGs

tb6As we get closer to the post-2015 Summit and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (now also known as 'the Global Goals'), the United Nations Volunteer programme (UNV) is presenting to the media the reasons for which volunteerism is key to achieve the objectives of the 2030 agenda.

The latest article by UNV's Executive Coordinator, which appeared as a blog entry in the Huffington Post, highlights how volunteers are crucial to make the new agenda relevant and owned at local level, and how they can facilitate behavioural changes which are indispensable to achieve sustainability for several of the new goals.

Read the article: Why volunteers can help lead the changes required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Community volunteers in five rural districts of Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan, get trained to become health messengers in the fight against tuberculosis in the region. Tubercolosis is caused by the desertification of the Aral Sea and the dispersion of dust in the air (Photo: Arislan Kannazarov/UNDP Uzbekistan)

Financing for Development Conference closes with hooks for Volunteer Groups in implementing the post-2015 agenda

FfD3At the end of one week of negotiations, the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) adopted the Addis Ababa Action agenda. This document calls for "unlocking the transformative potential of people", and includes volunteers among the recognized stakeholders of the global partnership for sustainable development.

Although generic, this mention goes together with several hooks in the document regarding objectives for which the creative energy of volunteers will be crucial to achieve sustainable and inclusive outcomes. For example, behaviour change with regards to sustainable consumption is not likely to happen without grassroots awareness raising campaigns and non–formal education activities, which are most often carried out through local community volunteers (para 17). Volunteers are also precious for local level capacity building such as that needed in cities and settlements to adopt integrated policies and plans for disaster risk reduction (para 34).

At the FfD Conference, different representatives of Volunteer Groups participated to three side events:

In these contexts, they conveyed the message that traditional means of implementation such as financial aid and infrastructure development are "important but not sufficient" to bring about sustainable change. Volunteerism can complement them by facilitating the transformation of passive beneficiaries into empowered agents of change. They also stressed the importance to address common misconceptions about volunteers, maintaining that they are often undervalued as a resource and that they connect different realities both at national and at international level (North – South, South – South and South-North). The latter is particularly relevant for a universal agenda that is applicable in all countries and requires the energy and knowledge of all people.

The FfD Outcome Document provides an important reference for the Outcome Document of the September UN post-2015 Summit with regard to the means of implementation (MoI) and a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development of the post-2015 agenda and its goals.

As the clock ticks towards September, the final draft of the post-2015 Summit outcome document is being further discussed this and next week during the last two sessions of the post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations. Volunteer Groups will be there once again to keep positioning volunteerism in the final draft.