We ought to support volunteer efforts

04Dec 2018
Editor
The Guardian
We ought to support volunteer efforts

THE International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (5 December), more commonly referred to as the International Volunteer Day (IVD),-

is an international observance mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1985. It offers an opportunity for volunteer-involving organisations and individual volunteers to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognise volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  at local, national and international levels.

International Volunteer Day is celebrated by many non-governmental organisations, civil society, and the private sector, among others. It is also marked and supported by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.

UNV coordinates a campaign to promote IVD every year, building on the impact volunteers have in communities, nationally and globally for peace and development.

In 2018 the focus of IVD is not only to celebrate volunteerism in all its facets, but also to highlight the role that volunteers play in building resilient communities. It is worth noting that current estimates equate the global volunteer workforce to 109 million full-time workers. 30 per cent of volunteering that takes place formally through organizations, associations and groups; and 70 per cent occurs through informal engagement between individuals. Overall, 60 per cent of the informal volunteers are women.

“Volunteers are often the first to act in times of crisis, helping millions to survive despite the risks. Their work upholds our common humanity.”

Secretary-General António Guterres, International Volunteer Day 2017 .

International Volunteer Day is a chance for individual volunteers, communities and organisations to promote their contributions to development at the local, national and international levels. By combining United Nations (UN) support with a grassroots mandate, International Volunteer Day is a unique opportunity for people and volunteer-involving organisations to work with government agencies, non-profit institutions, community groups, academia and the private sector.

In 2012, in response to evolving experiences and recommendations, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme spearheaded a Five-Year International Volunteer Day Strategy, with the aim to make it more globally recognised and grassroots-owned.

In the last six years, IVD was celebrated each year in over 80 countries annually. The IVD website receives around 50,000 page views every year, with around 150 stories posted which highlight over 50,000 volunteers, photos and videos of celebrations worldwide.

Traditionally, on International Volunteer Day, UNV calls for nominations and launches the UNV Online Volunteering Award. A jury made up of UNV representatives and external experts in volunteerism and development cooperation reviews the nominations and selects the winners.

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme invites citizens worldwide to be inspired by the winner’s stories and participate in the global voting for their favourite winner. The team that gets the most votes is announced as the public’s favourite on the International Day of Happiness.

The purpose of the award is to recognise online volunteers’ contributions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, to showcase the many ways in which online volunteers can strengthen the capacities of organisations and to demonstrate the difference volunteers can make to peace and development projects by sharing their time, skills and expertise over the Internet.