Critical conditions in today’s world call for more volunteer actions in various fields. While good numbers of local volunteers in every part of the world are ready to assist their communities in the times of plague and distress, we are facing more challenging situations where more expert volunteers and more cooperation between them is needed.
Simply, volunteers are people and organizations that devote their time and energy to improve other peoples’ lives, without expectation in return. It would include individuals with a variety of activities, societies, institutions, nonprofit organizations, government, and non-government organizations.
“Volunteering provides opportunities for people, particularly those often excluded, to concretely impact their own lives and play a constructive role in their communities by volunteering their time and skills. Through volunteerism, communities around the world often experience strengthened solidarity and inclusion” (https://www.unv.org).
The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, also known as International Volunteer Day or IVD, has been observed since 1985, in order to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognize volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local, national and international levels.
“Volunteer for an inclusive future” is the theme chosen for International Volunteer Day in 2019, in pursuit of equality and inclusion through volunteerism, and the #IVD2019 is the hashtag dedicated to this special day.
Volunteers can have an active or passive role in helping the communities prevent or adapt to environmental risks, thereby creating resilience and promoting peace and development. United Nations recognizes volunteerism as “a universal social behavior and a critical resource for community resilience”.
Widespread challenges like climate change, environmental degradation, migration and refugee crisis, armed conflicts, poverty, and inequity require more cooperation between volunteers themselves and with various organizations. The United Nations Volunteer program seeks to prompt and enhance cooperation between individuals, and to connect them with wider systems of support.
In the view of the UN, effective collaboration with volunteers can “transform volunteering from a coping mechanism to a strategic resource for community resilience”. By bringing together individual actions under a shared purpose, volunteerism expands the choices and opportunities available to communities as they prepare for and respond to crises.
All volunteers are invited to aid the United Nations in achieving its core objectives, i.e. safeguarding peace and protecting human rights, promoting economic and social progress and sustainable development, and establishing international justice. By recognizing the critical role of volunteers and working with its partners to effectively integrate volunteerism into development programming efforts, the UNV program also contributes to international peace and development.
As stated by UN, the International Volunteer Day is a chance for individual volunteers, communities, and organizations to promote their contributions to development at the local, national and international levels, and it’s a unique opportunity for people and volunteer-involving organizations to work with government agencies, non-profit institutions, community groups, academia, and the private sector.
According to Achim Steiner, the administrator in the United Nations Development Programme, an estimated one billion volunteers are freely giving their time to make a difference on the issues that affect them and their communities, often in the most difficult of circumstances. He believes that volunteerism connects people, enabling them to work together to tackle the pressing issues of our time.
We need to take action before it’s too late. And today is an opportunity for you to join the network of volunteers and do what you can do, and make the world a better place to live.