United Nations Volunteers (UNV)
- Date submitted: 30 Oct 2011
- Stakeholder type: United Nations & Other IGOs
- Submission Document: Download
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United Nations Volunteers (UNV)
Submission for the Rio+20 Compilation Document
? ?Recognizing that volunteerism is an important component of any strategy aimed at, inter alia, such areas as poverty reduction, sustainable development, health, disaster prevention and management and social integration and, in particular, overcoming social exclusion and discrimination? (United Nations General Assembly A/RES 63/153).
? Volunteers have repeatedly demonstrated the power of volunteerism for social, economic and environmental transformation.
? The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN programme that supports sustainable human development globally through the promotion of volunteerism, the integrating volunteerism in development programming, and the mobilization of volunteers.
? Throughout 2011, the International Year of Volunteers plus Ten (IYV+10), UNV has been engaged in and organized global, regional and national consultative multi-stakeholder processes that involved a wide diversity of volunteer involving organizations (ViOs), civil society at large, UN organizations, governments, academia and private sector from more than 90 countries.
? Based on the declarations of these global stakeholder consultations, UNV would requests Rio+20 to acknowledge and address that:
1. Achieving sustainable development will require volunteers - therefore people, as volunteers, and volunteerism be integrated as part of the process, discussion, outcome and implementation of the Rio+20 Conference.
2. Voluntary action and a strong people-centered approach are essential to achieve sustainable development and that this should be at the core of the Outcome Document.
3. New ways of measuring progress and sustainable development are necessary, with new indicators that should include civic and volunteer engagement.
4. The demonstrated power of volunteerism supports sustainable development and social, economic and environmental transformation.
5. To implement sustainable development the people of the planet need to volunteer, and that this requires recognition and support.
1. Achieving sustainable development will require volunteers
?It is easy to mouth the words ?sustainable development?, but to make it happen we have to be prepared to make major changes -- in our lifestyles, our economic models, our social organization, and our political life.? We have to connect the dots between climate change and the development agenda; between business, government, and civil society; between global security and global sustainability. ?It is good business ? good politics ? and good for society.?
(From Secretary General Ban Ki-moon?s remarks to the World Economic Forum Session on Redefining Sustainable Development; Davos, Switzerland, 28 January 2011.
?Voluntary action is also essential in our global effort to address climate change, which poses a serious threat to our ability to reach the Millennium Development Goals. [?] we need people everywhere to volunteer for this challenge [?],?
(From Secretary General Ban Ki-moon?s statement on International Volunteer Day, 5 December 2007).
?Recognizing that volunteerism is an important component of any strategy aimed at, inter alia, such areas as poverty reduction, sustainable development, health, disaster prevention and management and social integration and, in particular, overcoming social exclusion and discrimination?
((United Nations General Assembly A/RES 63/153)
Volunteers have repeatedly demonstrated the power of volunteerism for social, economic and environmental transformation. One of the most successful global campaigns of recent times, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, relied on the active participation of hundreds of thousands of volunteers. Large numbers of citizens have been mobilized around other campaigns in fields such as literacy, debt relief, polio eradication, human rights, poverty eradication, sustainable development, and violence against women. The environment movement also is a volunteer movement at its heart. By extension of those experiences it is feasible to mobilize large numbers of people to volunteer for sustainable development, a cause worthy of providing opportunities for current generations and at the same time leaving a more sustainable world for future generations.
In 1992, Agenda 21 in section 3.7 already stressed that ?sustainable development must be achieved at every level of society [?] Governments, in cooperation with appropriate international and non-governmental organizations should support a community-driven approach to sustainability?. The Johannesburg 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD or Rio+10), in its call for major groups to participate in implementation, specifically singles out volunteer groups.
When volunteering and civic engagement are harnessed to their full potential, it is a genuine force for social cohesion and sustainable societies. Social change comes from responsive citizens who take action to make change happen. Through acting for themselves to help ensure sustainable development, even the most marginalized people can become agents for social change. NGOs and voluntary organizations empower responsive citizens to act together and build sustainable societies.
2. Global stakeholders confirm the importance of voluntary action and a strong people-centered approach to sustainable development
Rio+20 takes place six months after the end of the year that marks the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10). Throughout 2011 the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) has been supporting and leading several global, regional and national consultative multi-stakeholder processes that involved a wide diversity of volunteer involving organizations (ViOs), civil society at large, UN organizations, governments, academia and private sector. These consultations focused attention on the role and value of volunteering for sustainable human development and peace in the work of all those stakeholders and came up with consensus-based declarations and recommendations in this respect. It is in the context of these stakeholder consultations that UNV would like to underline the importance that people, as volunteers, and volunteerism have to be part of the process, discussion, outcome and implementation of the Rio+20 Conference.
Five regional IYV+10 consultations in Ecuador, Philippines, Senegal (Anglophone and Francophone Africa) and Turkey involved more than 300 participants from 97 countries and 144 organizations. These meetings produced 125 policy-oriented recommendations aimed at re-positioning the volunteering agenda in the development landscape grouped around the four key areas of IYV+10, i.e. recognition, facilitation, networking and promotion of volunteering.
Under the motto Commit, Encourage, Volunteer? the 64th UN-DPI NGO Conference took place in Bonn from 3-5 September, 2011. About 1300 participants from 85 different countries and 300 NGOs participated in the Conference which was titled ?Sustainable Societies; Responsive citizens?, and in the final Declaration pointed out that:
- ?Recognizing that the implementation of the sustainable development agenda requires, besides strong political actions and political leadership, the everyday, voluntary actions of millions of people and civil society organizations across the globe;?
- ?Keeping in mind the long history of volunteer engagement in environmental issues, it will be important to acknowledge that the role of citizen engagement and volunteer action will become even more significant in assuring an environmentally sustainable future and a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, particularly as we approach Rio + 20;?
The Government of Germany submitted this Declaration to the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for items 19 and 27 of the 66th session in 2011.
The Global Volunteer Conference organized by UNV in partnership with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) took place in Budapest from 15-17 September, 2011. The 200 participants from 80 countries and 133 organizations recommended that:
?Governments must recognize the economic and social value of volunteerism to achieve national development goals and well-being, and must provide an enabling environment for volunteerism to thrive. Governments must as well support infrastructure and recognition of the values of civic participation; including by incorporating volunteerism in their forthcoming deliberations for Rio+20.?
Citizen engagement and volunteerism should be recognized as one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as per the Declaration of the 64th UN-DPI NGO Conference:
SDG - PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: By 2022, governments need to ensure that voluntarism 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 will include mandatory public participation in (a) major development project approvals and environmental impact assessment procedures, (b) drafting of national level sustainable development policies, laws and regulations and (c) administrative decisions such as pollution permitting.
3. Measuring progress differently, including civic and volunteer engagement
Development has commonly been understood and analyzed in terms of macro-economic performance and corresponding quantitative indicators. A significant change in perspective was introduced through the UNDP Human Development Index including social indicators such as education and life expectancy to measure development. Increasingly today there is also a focus on human well-being which emphasizes in an empowering way what people can do rather than what they cannot do. This active engagement is often reflected in all kinds of volunteering ranging from mutual aid or self-help; philanthropy or service to others; participation or civic engagement; to advocacy or campaigning.
Rio+20 is a moment that could define new ways of measuring global sustainable development progress, both in terms of the specific goals as well as how to measure progress. In this context all development should be sustainable human development. In this context, the declaration of the 64th UN-DPI NGO Conference includes the following Sustainable Development Goal:
SDG - NEW INDICATORS OF PROGRESS: By 2020, nations supplement or replace GDP with a new measure of sustainable economic welfare based on best available information at that time. Economic performance and the forecasted effects of policy changes will be measured by this new metric. We encourage a process of continuous improvement and refinement of the new measure over time and an international process to set standards and make available common methods and data sources. We also encourage the adoption of several other headline indicators of environmental, economic, social, cultural and linguistic sustainability to provide a measure of progress towards the green economy transition, such as civic participation, improved well-being and achievement of sustainable development goals.
4. The United Nations Volunteers programme will support global voluntary action for sustainable development
Global recognition of volunteerism?s role in environmental protection was highlighted through a number of General Assembly resolutions. The UNDP Executive Board?s called for UNV to contribute to the global environmental and climate change agenda.
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the United Nations programme that supports sustainable human development globally through the promotion of volunteerism and the mobilization of volunteers. It operates against a background of growing recognition that volunteerism brings benefits to both society at large and the individual volunteer; that it makes important contributions, economically as well as socially; and that it contributes to more cohesive societies by building trust and reciprocity among citizens. Universal and inclusive, UNV embraces all types of volunteer action while holding to the values of free will, commitment, engagement and solidarity, which are the foundations of volunteerism.
UNV will continue to support the work of Governments and that of more than 20 UN organizations such as DPKO, FAO, UNCCD, UNDP (including GEF SGP), UNEP, UNHCR, UNISDR, and WFP in harnessing the power of volunteerism in support of peace and sustainable development. This is done through mobilization of volunteers, including almost 8,000 UN Volunteers annually; integrating volunteerism in development programming; and advocacy for volunteering.
UNV mobilizes skilled UN Volunteers (mostly from developing countries) into a range of sustainable development projects that are improving access to safe drinking water, combating desertification, developing sanitation services, creating sustainable livelihoods, addressing risk management and disaster response, and adapting to climate change. UNV is addressing the sustainable development challenges through capacity building and strengthening volunteer infrastructure as well as through specific programming in: access to renewable and efficient energy, food security and adaptation to climate change, Natural resource management and biodiversity conservation, and disaster risk reduction.
UNV intends to create with other civil society partners a mechanism to capture the value of global volunteer engagement for sustainable development. The approach is based on the 2009 International Volunteer Day (IVD) campaign ?Volunteering for our Planet?, during which thousands of volunteers around the world registered more than 1.5 million volunteer hours to tackle climate change and other environmental issues. These results were presented at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference - UNFCCC COP15.
Further measurement of the contribution of volunteering to sustainable societies will build on efforts to develop satellite accounts for nonprofit institutions based on the UNDESA handbook. UNV will continue cooperation with ILO that has introduced the manual to measure volunteering by means of household surveys.
UNV hosts an Online Volunteering service with more than 10,000 active online volunteers annually. This provides a platform to bring people from around the globe together in a carbon-friendly way to volunteer for sustainable development.
5. Implementing Sustainable Development needs the people of the planet to volunteer
Sustainable development is about individual and collective action. It is about empowering people to get involved through voluntary action. Connecting the dots between sustainable development and engaging communities, and between governments and the people, is about bringing in those citizens who respond to the challenge of achieving sustainable development, building a green economy and addressing poverty reduction. Rio+20 is the opportunity to recognize that volunteering is a key driver of the needed changes to achieve sustainable development.
Rio+20 should include from its inception volunteers and civil society as an integral part of deliberations as well as recognize their importance in the implementation of the results of the Conference.
?The decisions and actions of individuals may seem insignificant in the face of global challenges. But when people choose to devote their time and energy they can, together, make a difference.?
(From Secretary General Ban Ki-moon?s statement on International Volunteer Day, 5 December 2009).
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