Volunteers play a significant role in the implementation of a truly people-centered development model, yet their contributions remain undervalued, a report from the United Nations Volunteers program finds.
Based on case studies from a number of countries, including Brazil, Kenya, Lebanon, and Bangladesh, The State of the World's Volunteerism Report 2015 (132 pages, PDF) found that volunteers play a vital role in making governments more accountable and responsive and in representing the interests of women, youth, and marginalized populations that are often left out of development policy discussions. For the post-2015 sustainable development agenda to succeed, the report argues, it is essential to bolster such efforts with the aim of improving governance, addressing inequalities, and strengthening the voice and civic participation of vulnerable groups.
The report also found that while the governments of Mozambique, Norway, and Peru have enacted laws and set up frameworks to formalize and support the contribution of volunteers to policy making, other governments are failing to acknowledge — and leverage — the potential of volunteers to help them chart a more successful development path. The report calls for engaging more volunteers among women, youth, and marginalized groups in local and national decision-making processes; fostering collaboration, alliances, and multi-stakeholder partnerships in the process of shaping and implementing policies; and integrating volunteers formally into national development frameworks and Sustainable Development Goals strategies.
"The potential of volunteers to help create truly people-centered development is enormous, but, as yet, far from fully tapped," said United Nations Development Programme administrator Helen Clark. "Achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals will be helped by the participation of all sections of society. Volunteers have a critical role to play in representing the voices of those who are often excluded from development decisions."