Civil society supports volunteer role for development after 2015

Less than 500 days ahead of the new development agenda, the 65th UN DPI/NGO Conference on “2015 and beyond: our action agenda” (New York, 27-29 August 2014) gathered thousands of civil society partners from all over the world and provided them with a timely opportunity to deliver a collective statement on the proposed Sustainable Development Goals before the start of the negotiations later this month.

The strong presence of volunteer-involving organizations (VIOs) throughout the Conference clearly impacted its Final Declarationwhich calls on governments to “ensure that volunteerism and citizen engagement are incorporated in all global, national and local action plans for implementation of sustainable development and human well-being, to commit to the creation of an enabling environment for citizen engagement and voluntary action” and highlights that “it will be crucial that the voices and volunteer actions of ordinary people be at the very heart of accountability structures”.

VIOs were active under the umbrella of the post-2015 Volunteer Working Group, established last year and supported by UNV since then. Among the participating VIOs were FORUM, IAVE, CUSO International, VSO, VSA, YMCA, WAGGGS and WUSC-UNITERRA.*

As part of the Conference, a UNV workshop on “Volunteering post-2015: telling the story of people’s engagement” addressed the rationale and the opportunities for civil society to be an active player in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, positioning the relevance of volunteering in the context of the post-2015 agenda.

On this occasion, UNV launched a global survey to collect feedback on a draft 10-year plan of action that integrates volunteering in peace and development in the next decade. UNV developed the Zero Draft of this plan as part of the mandate of the UN General Assembly; input from the consultation will be incorporated in a new version to be submitted to the UN General Assembly in 2015. Initial reactions revealed a strong interest of key stakeholders to engage in this type of long-term collective effort.

* International Forum for Volunteering in Development (FORUM), the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE), CUSO International, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA), Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), World Association of Girl Guides and Girls Scouts (WAGGGS) and World University Service of Canada (WUSC)-UNITERRA.