Published on 5th December 2014
Every year, more than one million New Zealanders volunteer here and overseas, in their own communities and in countries facing hardship and poverty. Their goal is to work with those who wish to improve their lives, and the lives of others, in some way.
On International Volunteer Day, the international volunteering community renews its call for volunteering to be seen as key to international and national development.
Many of the successes under the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have relied on millions of people worldwide volunteering to deliver on the promised targets – eight goals agreed by the international community to address the most crucial problems worldwide. The international community is now setting out the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Internationally there is a call for volunteering and the role of volunteer groups to be included in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
A petition by the International Association of Volunteer Effort (IAVE) calls on the UN to formalise the role of volunteering in development. Vanisa Dhiru, Chief Executive of Volunteering New Zealand and New Zealand National Representative to IAVE, says “We've joined this call on the United Nations to ensure that volunteering is seen as a strategic resource to achieve the new SDGs. I'd like to see more Kiwis here and abroad support this call for action in Aotearoa. On International Volunteer Day we say ‘Ma tini ma mano ka rapa te whai – By many, by thousands, the work will be accomplished.’”
Gill Greer, CEO of Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA), is a member of the Post-2015 International Volunteering Working Group. She says, “We are committed to connecting people and transforming lives. Volunteering is critical to people-centred development. It delivers improvements in communities and countries by helping to build capacity and provide mentoring, training and skills development. Volunteers can also support good governance at every level, and encourage individuals and civil society organisations to participate in making the decisions that will shape their lives.”
On Friday, we will celebrate the value volunteers here and overseas bring to their communities, and continue to call for volunteering to be recognised as vital to delivering sustainable development, and better lives for all.