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

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.

Soyvoluntario MG 4330 w250screenshot video UZB c244As part of the celebration for the new goals, the UN Millennium Campaign organized a ceremony to award initiatives to achieve the MDGs and efforts to include people's voices in shaping the new agenda. One of the awards was dedicated to longstanding contributions to the MDGs through volunteering.

In the presence of representatives of FORUM, IAVE, IMPACT2030, VSA and VSO, the UNV Executive Coordinator handed over this award to two co-winners: the SoyVoluntari@ Network, Peru, and the Community Health Volunteers of Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan. These initiatives underline two aspects of an enabling environment for volunteerism: the importance to build strong multi-stakeholder networks to coordinate and scale up action, and the outreach capacity of volunteer initiatives combining international, national and local action.

Photos: (left) Richard Dictus, UNV Executive Coordinator, hands over the volunteerism award to Lorena Montellanos, representing the SoyVoluntari@ Network, Peru; (right) the Nurses Association of Karalpakstan, representing the Community Health Volunteers of Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan, thank in a video the UNMC for the award received. (Joel Sheakoski/UNV, 2015)

The Summit also discussed the role that the private sector could have in achieving the goals. The UN Private Sector Forum 2015 focused in particular on how business contributions to governance issues – such as anti-corruption, peace and stability, and the rule of law – can accelerate progress in advancing the entire SDG agenda. Representatives of UNV, IMPACT2030, IAVE and VSO on behalf of FORUM attended the Private Sector Forum, along with a number of high level participants. Corporate volunteering was mentioned in different occasions as a means to transfer knowledge and skills from the private sector, as well as to define policies and approaches to foster cultural changes within institutions, companies and communities.
More information: Introducing the corporate volunteering perspective in the UN Private Sector Forum 2015
(UNV.org)| Global CEOs sign on to new UN Goals at United Nations Private Sector Forum (UNDP.org) | The private sector has a seat at the table, now it's time to step up (Devex.com)

As an evolution of the MY World survey, which collected over 8 million voices from all over the world, the UN Millennium Campaign will explore, in partnership with UNV, new ways to engage large numbers of people through volunteerism, to raise awareness about and to monitor the Global Goals.

 MG 3951 Goal17Now that the implementation phase has started, we also look forward to the adoption later this year of the Plan of Action 2016-2030 for the integration of volunteering. The Plan frames our collaboration around three strategic objectives: SDG outreach, SDG implementation across all thematic areas, and measurement of volunteerism's contribution to development, including to report on SDG progress.

The integration of volunteering in the post-2015 debates is the result of a collective work over the last months and years. The new agenda contains many opportunities to highlight the added value of volunteering in engaging people and advancing development. The collective effort of volunteer organizations should now focus on leveraging them.

Photo: Outside the WeThePeoples Hub at UN HQ, volunteer groups celebrated people's involvement in creating the SDGs and are committed to support them through new partnerships. Left to right: Kylee Bates (IAVE), Richard Dictus (UNV), Kathleen Dennis (IAVE), Philip Goodwin (VSO), Sue Stephenson (IMPACT2030), Kesaya Baba (VSA), Adjmal Dulloo (FORUM) (Joel Sheakoski/UNV, 2015)