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

Shaping the role of volunteerism in the next decade: UNV workshop at the 65th UN DPI/NGO Conference

 MG 4622 large 250The new development agenda is less than 500 days ahead. At the UNV workshop on "Volunteering post-2015: telling the story of people's engagement", UNV and partner NGOs - the Post-2015 Volunteering Working Group, the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (FORUM/IVCO) and VSO - addressed the rationale and the opportunities for civil society to be an active player in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Along with positioning the relevance of volunteering in the context of the post-2015 agenda, the workshop launched a global survey on a 10-year plan of action that integrates volunteering in peace and development in the next decade. The Zero Draft of this plan has been put together by UNV on mandate by the UN General Assembly.

The UNV workshop, held on 29 August 2014 , was part of the 65th UN DPI/NGO Conference on "2015 and beyond: our action agenda" (New York, 27-29 August 2014), the last opportunity for NGOs to deliver a collective statement on the proposed Sustainable Development Goals before the start of the negotiations in September 2014. The strong presence of volunteer-involving organizations (VIOs) throughout the Conference, active under the umbrella of the post-2015 Volunteering Working Group, influenced the Conference Declaration which includes important references to the role of v olunteerism, participation and civic engagement for development after 2015.

UNV workshop UNDPI NGO collageWorkshop highlights

UNV explained that volunteering is for everyone, and can be done in many different ways, in a community or online - for example through the UNV Online Volunteering service. Kate Turner, VSO Volunteer in Rwanda, and Denise Lama Feliù, Researcher at FLACSO Chile, shared their respective experience as community volunteer and in working with UNV Online Volunteers.

From the floor, participants also shared their personal and organizational volunteer journey. Austin Diaz, a Y-Teen from the YMCA, talked about his experience as an Afro-American teenager from New York, engaging with the post-apartheid reality in South Africa during an exchange with a local YMCA. He underlined how his own outlook on life and on his role in his community had changed after he returned home.

Nita Kapoor, Director of the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (FORUM/IVCO), explained why volunteers are not just implementers nor cheap workers. She also illustrated broader mechanisms needed to facilitate this engagement Philippe Fragnier, from the Post-2015 Volunteering Working Group (CECI), presented the Working Group and the campaign 500 days, 500 ways, both aiming to make more visible the contribution of volunteers to development at the time of the definition of the new Sustainable Development Goals.

Across the workshop, participants interactively and proactively looked at creative ways of connecting governments and citizens to jointly engage in delivering sustainable development outcomes.

Follow the workshop on Twitter: @UNVolunteers - Hashtags: #UNNGO2014 #volunteer #post2015 | Flyer