Advocating for Volunteering Globally: IAVE’s Participation at the 2021 HLPF

By Raaida Mannaa, Manager, Global Advocacy and Partnerships, IAVE

At the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE), we recognize that volunteering is a vital component of a just and sustainable world.

An important part of our advocacy pillar is the work we do in collaboration with the Volunteer Groups Alliance (VGA), a global coalition bringing together organizations and networks that contribute to sustainable development through volunteering. This past July, this work included our participation at the United Nations 2021 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), convened online under the theme “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development”.

IAVE’s contribution was vital to achieving a robust set of goals and collectively advancing one powerful message – Volunteering is essential to achieving the SDGs1. Our key-actions included:

  • Playing a dynamic role in gathering global examples and shaping the narrative for submitting our 2021 Position Paper on Volunteering to the HLPF. The 500 words executive summary is available here (Section IX, starting at Paragraph 56).
  • Actively assisting in the organization of the VGA side event that resulted in a number of interventions from leaders and members within our network.
    • IAVE’s Executive Director, Nichole Cirillo, and researcher Helene Perold presented the initial findings of our study on volunteering leadership structures and how they have been impacted by the pandemic.
    • Renata Santander, National Director of Chile’s Instituto Nacional de la Juventud (INJUV), a member of our Global Network of Volunteering Leadership (GNVL), spoke on behalf of the government sector on the critical role that volunteering plays in achieving the 2030 Agenda.
    • Ahmad El Zubi, Founding CEO of Jordan’s Naua and Nahno platforms, and Alexandra Infante, Director of Perú Voluntario – both GNVL member organizations – presented on behalf of volunteer leaders globally, highlighting how volunteers have contributed to the COVID-19 relief efforts.

Of the 42 Voluntary National Reports (VNRs) prepared for this year’s HLPF, at least 25 (60%) mentioned the positive contributions volunteering has made to the achieving the SDGs. In collaboration with UNV and VGA, IAVE engages its members in countries presenting VNRs to help them advance the inclusion of volunteering in their reports. Particularly, IAVE guides and supports GNVL members in developing such efforts, providing them with knowledge and the connections they need to successfully participate in this process.

A concrete example of positive results generated comes from Niger. GNVL member, Agence Nigérienne de Volontariat pour le Développement (ANVD), organized a forum on national structures to highlight volunteers’ contribution in achieving the 2030 Agenda, in parallel to the countrywide reporting process.

Our collective effort resulted in the inclusion of language highlighting the contribution of volunteers in the United Nations Ministerial Declaration, which has been adopted by the Member States (Item 22 page 9/18).

If sufficiently supported and integrated into wider development efforts, volunteering can make a significant impact in achieving the SDGs and beyond. As part of its mission to advocate for volunteers worldwide, IAVE is committed to working with all relevant partners to ensure that this message expands globally, developing and enabling platforms for our members and the volunteer community at large to share the transformative impact of their volunteering actions.

The full report of the VGA’s participation at the HLPF is available here.