Volunteerism the Key to a Sustainable Global Future

United Nations General Assembly hall in New Yo...Image via Wikipedia
Volunteerism is a renewable global resource that must play a crucial role in building a sustainable future for the world, Donna Keher, Chief of the United Nations Volunteers Partnerships and Communications Division told the 2011 National Conference on Volunteering.

Opening the second day of the conference, Keher said volunteerism is not just a contributor to gross domestic product, but to social wellbeing.

“Volunteerism can transform the pace and nature of peace and development”, said Keher. “Imagine if seven billion people volunteered their time towards peace and development”.

She said the power of volunteering relied on its ability to change the world from the grassroots up.

“The moment has come to ensure that volunteerism is an integral part of any development discourse,” she said.

Keher said the UN believes “volunteer action is a renewable global asset with real potential to respond to pressing needs around the world”.

In her presentation, Keher told the 400 delegates on the Gold Coast that the world needs both revolutionary thinking and revolutionary action in order to build a sustainable future. The sustainable development revolution, she said, is about both individual and collective action.

“Sustainable development is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs,” she said.

Keher said that it’s not just the United and Governments that will achieve the Millennium Development Goals – eight development goals that all 193 UN member states agreed to achieve by 2015. Keher said it will take NGO’s and movements of people – “It’s the NGO and voluntary associations that empower citizens to act together to build real sustainable societies,” said Keher.

She said the we need to go beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and start looking at the sustainability of our nations and communities. “We need a SDI – a Gross Sustainable Development Index”.

UN Action on Volunteering:

2011 marks the 10 year anniversary of the International Year of the Volunteer, and Keher said the UN has a renewed focus on volunteerism.
The UN General Assembly will have a special session on volunteerism.
The UN ‘State of the World’s Volunteerism’ report will be released at the UN Hall in New York on December 5th. Keher said the report is a ground-breaking study on the global impact of volunteering, and will provide an alternative vision of society and will allow volunteerism to move into a new era.
A Resolution on Volunteering will be put to the UN General Assembly on December 5th. Following meetings in Africa, Asia and South America, 125 key recommendations were drafted sent to UN member states, to form the basis of the resolution.
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