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

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.

Discussions at the Conference emphasized the specific contribution of volunteering to development, such as its capacity to build and strengthen relationships. This is a key asset to engage people in awareness raising, outreach and implementation in a sustainable way. The need to strengthen and expand ongoing research to enhance the evidence of impact of volunteering was underlined in several occasions. In this regard, the launch of UNV's State of the World's Volunteerism Report 2015, with its specific focus on volunteerism's contribution to governance, was welcomed.

Participants stressed that the 2030 agenda requires volunteer groups to adopt new approaches and modus operandi. There was also consensus on the need to take forward the fruitful strategic engagement built so far for the post-2015 discussions, especially in view of maintaining the spaces for engagement with the High Level Political Forum (the body monitoring and reviewing progress on the implementation of the agenda). A discussion paper on 'Documenting the contribution of volunteering to the SDGs: The challenges and opportunities of universal SDGs for IVCOs and volunteer groups' was presented, encouraging participants to develop joint approaches to measurement and reporting in the context of the SDGs.

Among the emerging trends discussed, and in line with the universality of the 2030 agenda, different examples of South-North exchanges were presented from countries as diverse as Norway and Japan, who both made very positive experiences in setting up programmes during which participants from the global South could contribute to communities in their host countries.

In his opening speech on the 'Implications of the SDGs on IVCO', UNV's Executive Coordinator Richard Dictus invited IVCO to maintain and expand the momentum of collaboration that has led to the recognition and integration of volunteerism in the 2030 agenda as a complementary means of implementation, and to ensure that volunteers and volunteer groups are ready to face the challenges and opportunities of the new agenda.