The current High Level Political Forum (HLPF) addresses the implementation of the sustainable development agenda. Volunteerism is a key component; it is an effective way to engage people in addressing development challenges in the post-2015 development agenda. Ms. Dennis started off by highlighting how volunteering bridges communication and understanding among people. She mentioned volunteering is a unique opportunity to increase networking, and learn advocacy skills, participation at regional and international conferences and knowledge development in the field of volunteering, which are also the four pillars of volunteerism. She quoted Martin Luther King – “The right time is always right to do what is right” and stressed that everyone has something to give, receive and contribute.
Ms. Sen introduced her own organization, VSO International in the United Kingdom, which aims at promoting volunteering as a powerful way to tackle poverty and inequality. She described volunteerism is a bridge between the development outcomes. “We see volunteers as complementing but not substituting the work force”, she said. Accountability and effectiveness are the catalysts of citizenship and participation in decision making. She then explained how volunteering helps increasing social capital within a community that brings about social inclusion.
Mr. David stressed that sustainable development is about people. He related to his own personal experience as the MDG coordinator in Haiti. He explained that peoples engagement is the key to trigger long-term changes of mind-sets and life choices in all countries. He encourages partnership with civil society in order to integrate civic engagement at local level in the SDG framework. This would also be able to strengthen the overall accountability through multi-stakeholder partnership at national level. Ms. Quintero concluded by outlining the magic recipe of volunteering. She briefly discussed the critical role of volunteers and how volunteering fosters concrete actions to address the social, environmental and economic challenges ahead.
Meeting Title: Volunteer Action Counts for sustainable development: How to strengthen accountability of the post-2015 framework through citizen engagement
Speakers: Ms. Simona Costanzo Sow, Manager, Post-2015 project UN Volunteers; Ms. Kathi Dennis, Executive Director, International Association for Volunteer Efforts (IAVE); Ms. Anjali Sen, International Board Member, VSO International (UK); Mr. Jonasson David, National UN Volunteer (Haiti); Ms. Maria Francisca Cepeda Quintero, Officer Colombia Presidential Programme (Colombia)
Location: Conference Room 7, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 3 July 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT Representatives: Aslesha Dhillon