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

UNV brokers collaboration between the UN and the private sector on corporate volunteering

IVD 2014 UNV 0106-w250On International Volunteer Day 2014, UNV gathered stakeholders from the private sector and UN officials at the UN Headquarters in New York to launch the commitment of IMPACT 2030 in supporting the implementation of the post-2015 agenda through corporate volunteering. IMPACT 2030 is a global coalition of private sector leaders and other stakeholders aiming to expand and encourage corporate and employee volunteering activities to help achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Photo: Ms Amina J. Mohammed (third from left), UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning, receives the IMPACT 2030 Declaration from IMPACT 2030, UNV and stakeholders representatives during the UNV event on International Volunteer Day 2014 at UN Headquarters, Trusteeship Council Chamber. (UNV/Joel Sheakoski, 2014)

Experience with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has revealed the need for a multi-stakeholder partnership, including with the private sector, for sustainable development and for tackling emerging development challenges. This is reflected into two UN General Assembly Resolutions (66/67 and 67/138) which encourage the UN to further engage with the private sector through the expansion of corporate volunteering and employee volunteer activities.

IVD 2014 UNV 0027-cut w250"Corporate volunteering initiatives are excellent enablers to make global sustainable development work, and to ensure that social corporate responsibility is counted as a major contributor to this global endeavour", said Richard Dictus, UNV's Executive Coordinator. He also stated that partnering with corporate private sector and philanthropic foundations is key to unlocking essential and innovative partnerships for volunteerism, with special reference to two UNV initiatives bearing enormous potential for collaboration: the UN Online Volunteering service and the placement of corporate volunteers in the UN system. (Watch full speech at 8'36'' of the video of the event)

Photo: Mr Richard Dictus, UNV's Executive Coordinator, gives his opening statement at the UNV event on International Volunteer Day 2014 at UN Headquarters, Trusteeship Council Chamber (UNV/Joel Sheakoski, 2014)

The 10 Year Plan of Action to integrate volunteering in peace and development in the next decade and beyond was presented to the audience as an opportunity to move volunteering from implementing the MDGs to shaping the SDGs. The over 200 participants were invited to contribute their views as part of the ongoing consultations that are being held by UNV.

IMPACT 2030 was introduced by Mr Grady Lee, Chair of the IMPACT 2030 Executive Committee and Co-Founder of Corps-Giving/RockCorps, and Ms Sue Stephenson, Vice Chair of the IMPACT 2030 Executive Committee and Vice-President of Community Footprints, the CSR programme of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Founding partners include The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, IBM Corporation, SAP SE, UPS, Perkins Coie, and Waggener Edstrom Communications. Collaborating partners include Google, Cemex, Telefonica, SingTel, and Ball Corporation; a network of stakeholders will be established around the world.

The leadership of IMPACT 2030 formally presented its Declaration to the United Nations, represented by Ms Amina J. Mohammed, UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning. Each IMPACT 2030 partner committed to applying its employee volunteer actions towards one or more of the SDGs in the form of capacity building and civic engagement.

Welcoming the Declaration as a positive sign of an increased commitment of the private sector in addressing the challenges of the post-2015 framework, Ms Mohammed recognized corporate volunteering as an additional contribution to localizing the new agenda through the specific expertise it brings. She closed the event acknowledging the synergy of the IMPACT 2030 Declaration with other calls from different stakeholders, which demand more inclusive dialogue spaces for the Post-2015 Development Agenda to be truly transformational, and encouraging the private sector to continue its engagement in shaping the agenda. (Watch full speech at approx 2h52' of the video of the event)

Further information about the UNV event

Making change happen: corporate volunteers’ impact in sustainable development

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On 5 December 2014, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York UNV celebrated the power and potential of corporate volunteering to better the world

The United Nations International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (IVD), observed every 5 December, was established by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/212 of 17 December 1985. IVD is to commend volunteerism in all its facets and to pay a special tribute to people's participation in making a difference locally, nationally and globally.

To mark IVD 2014 in New York, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme gathered a group of volunteers, corporate volunteering actors, volunteer-involving organizations, and other stakeholders to bring to the attention of the international community the commitment of private sector to positively impact the implementation of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda through corporate volunteering.

Focusing on the recognition and celebration of corporate citizens' participation and engagement in making a difference through corporate volunteering, the event launched IMPACT 2030, a global collaboration between the United Nations (UN) and the private sector created to mobilize corporate volunteers to directly and substantially contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Watch the video of the event  |  Read the IMPACT2030 Declaration

Volunteerism prominently featured in UN Secretary-General’s Report on post-2015 agenda

20141204 unsg2 w250‘As we seek to build capacities and to help the new agenda to take root, volunteerism can be another powerful and cross-cutting means of implementation. Volunteerism can help to expand and mobilize constituencies, and to engage people in national planning and implementation for sustainable development goals. And volunteer groups can help to localize the new agenda by providing new spaces of interaction between governments and people for concrete and scalable actions.’ (The road to dignity by 2030: ending poverty, transforming all lives and protecting the planet, p. 36, para 131)  

With these words, the UN Secretary-General’s Synthesis Report on the Post-2015 Development Agenda acknowledges and recognizes the contribution of volunteers and volunteerism to development, and underlines the role volunteer groups can play in the sustainable development agenda.  This is a remarkable achievement by the global volunteer community as it positions volunteerism in the ongoing debate about the implementation and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly at national and local level.  

Together with the Open Working Group’s proposal for SDGs, this report will be a key background document for the negotiations among member states starting in January 2015.

Policy-makers from Southern African countries and civil society engage to position volunteers as key actors to achieve new development goals

20141122 Civicus 0791 w250Over 150 participants, including 20 Members of Parliament from Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia, former Ministers, Regional Directors, international and community volunteers and civil society members, discussed pathways to participation in the new sustainable development framework in a workshop organized jointly by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO), FK Norway and the Volunteer Council South Africa. The workshop was part of the 2014 Civicus International Civil Society Week held in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 19–24 November 2014.

Lima Declaration calls for Member States to recognize volunteerism in the post-2015 framework

IMG 4290 p w250The International Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum) of International Volunteer Cooperation Organisations (IVCO) closed today its annual Conference in Lima, Peru, with a Declaration calling for Member States to recognize volunteer groups as key partners and stakeholders of the post-2015 framework and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Declaration also calls for ensuring an active role for citizens, including volunteers, in any accountability mechanism to monitor progress towards the SDGs; and affirms that "the full potential of volunteers to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs can be unlocked only by an SDG framework that explicitly recognizes and supports volunteerism". An Appendix to the Declaration details specific possible contributions to the proposed SDG framework.

In the picture: Chris Eaton, Executive Director of World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and new Chair of Forum, signs the Lima Declaration on behalf of WUSC (James O'Brien/VSO, 2014)

People’s engagement: the key to sustainable development

The experience gathered through the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals demonstrated that Governments alone cannot achieve sustainable development. Drawing on the assets and strengths of different actors, partnerships with civil society can facilitate participation and voluntary engagement, which in turn strengthen ownership, build individual capacity and help address challenges in a sustainable way.  

This is the main message from the high-level global meeting which concluded the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) Dialogues on the implementation of the post-2015 agenda which focus on the theme of ‘Partnerships with Civil Society’.  The UN Volunteers (UNV) programme co-leads these dialogues together with the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC) and the United Nations Non-governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS).  

RD photo p w250Richard Dictus, UNV Executive Coordinator, stressed in his speech at the high-level event that “the engagement of civil society in the post-2015 agenda needs to be articulated around three issues, notably space, capacity as well as trust and confidence. To deliver on a complex agenda, which spans across environmental, social and economic issues, inclusive opportunities need to be developed for all actors to engage in a complementary way and according to their area of expertise.” He also added that “volunteerism is a way to localize the Sustainable Development Goals because it provides new spaces of interaction between governments and people for concrete and scalable actions." He challenged participants to think outside the box and ensure that they are ready to explore new forms of engagement based on mutual accountability, including through leveraging new technologies.  

Good governance and international volunteering: a two-way street

VolGov Front Page 145The United Nations Volunteer (UNV) programme and the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum) launched online on October 6 the results of joint research into how volunteers and international volunteer cooperation organisations (IVCOs) strengthen governance structures. The research documents how international volunteering contributes often alongside national and community volunteers to improve public institutions by promoting transparency, information, access and participation.

The research process included a survey among Forum members, interviews, case examples drawn from published and online sources, along with literature from evaluation reports.

Benjamin Lough, one of the authors of the research, pointed out at the role of international volunteers: "As case examples in the report illustrate, international volunteers add value to governance-strengthening initiatives not easily achieved through other forms of development cooperation. International volunteers fill a critical bridging role that links development actors across sectors."

Volunteer participation in governance is a two-way street, and is far easier to navigate when governments are supportive and stable.

IMG 4014 Dimity-Fifer--Amanda-Mukwashi-7 w250Amanda Mukwashi, Chief of Volunteer Knowledge and Innovation at UNV, stated that "the report provides timely information for the research UNV is doing for the State of the World's Volunteerism Report on the theme of Volunteerism and Governance due for release in 2015. It also provides more evidence for why volunteering for development must be taken seriously in the post-2015 context". (In the picture, Amanda Mukwashi, Chief of Volunteer Knowledge and Innovation at UNV (right), and Dimity Fifer, Chief Executive Officer at Australian Volunteers International (left), discuss the report. Photo: Celine Bolton/UNV, 2014)

MY World awards recognize volunteers’ contribution to inclusive participation

On 25 September 2014, United Nations representatives, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning, representatives of civil society organizations from around the world and government representatives gathered in New York to publicly announce the winners of the MY World Partner Recognition Awards.

The Volunteerism Award recognizes the efforts of MY World partner organizations to foster volunteerism and civic engagement as a core ingredient for the success of the MY World initiative. Volunteers collected many votes offline, through paper ballots and discussions with respondents from the most remote communities around the world.

20140925 MG 7081 large w25020140925 MG 7074 large w250Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, presented the award to the co-winners of the volunteerism category: the Millennials Movement, a Peruvian volunteers’ initiative which engages and empowers communities in partnerships with civil society, local administrations and other groups, and the Kenyan network of volunteer-involving organizations (VIO Network Kenya), which engages with government, partners and stakeholders to ensure universal access to quality services through the promotion of volunteerism.  Mr. Alhendawi emphasized that by volunteering one is not only giving, but also gaining, and that this is the best investment one can make in life.

Through MY World, volunteers from the Millennials Movement met and engaged several thousand citizens in Peru. They brought printed ballots to those without internet and allowed an opportunity to marginalized youth to participate and be active. In total, they collected over 6,000 votes. Watch their video.  

The VIO Network Kenya started rolling out MY World on International Youth Day (12 August) 2014, as a way to engage people in identifying priorities and take action on them. Adjmal Dulloo, a member of the Post-2015 Volunteer Working Group and co-founder of ‘Unmasking Shadows’, accepted the award on behalf of the VIO Network Kenya. He stressed the need to engage youth not only in the planning process but further on in the development process.  

Jim Emerson, Executive Director of VSO International, presented the outstanding achievement award to the Youth Institute of Mexico City INJUVE, which collected 1.6 million votes through 3,000 ambassadors under 30 years old (14-30 years) whom they called “actors of change.”  

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Your voluntary engagement might sometimes go unnoticed to the world, but your actions count in the communities that have benefited from your hard work, and they certainly count to us.

Recognising the role of volunteers in achieving the Millennium Development Goals