12/05/2016 08:04 EST | Updated 12/05/2016 08:04 EST

Volunteerism Is Essential For Achieving The Global Goals

Cheerful teenage girl with volunteers building wooden frame in background
Hero Images via Getty Images
Cheerful teenage girl with volunteers building wooden frame in background

By Evelyne Guindon

Among the greatest rewards of being the CEO at Cuso International, is the opportunity to meet with many of the great global citizens as they prepare for their assignments after having made a choice to share their skills with others. Very soon, they will be part of a global movement as Cuso International volunteers. They are getting ready to support partners, to improve the lives of the people they work with and to contribute to achieving the Global Goals. It's part of our commitment to the world.

The Global Goals are our collective plan of action for the next 15 years, the way that we will come together for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.

There have been countless debates on how to fund the work needed to fulfill the vision and reach all the targets of the Global Goals. The goals, at times, seem daunting. While Official Development Assistance (ODA), domestic investment and foundation support will play a role, money is not the only resource available to the global community.

In fact, the SDG agenda recognizes that volunteerism is a valuable resource for implementation. In November, 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the Resolution on "Integrating volunteering into peace and development: the plan of action for the next decade and beyond".

Volunteers are essential for achieving the Global Goals. Volunteering gives global citizens a tangible way to contribute to education, health, governance, sustainable livelihoods, security and peace, environment, gender equality and social inclusion. It provides opportunities for everyone to play an active and meaningful part in the international effort to reduce poverty and inequality.

It is especially exciting that today, many of our international volunteers are working with partners to strengthen national volunteer programs. In Colombia, Cuso International is working with the UAE Organizaciones Solidarias through the Ministry of Labour to strengthen the volunteer sector, by supporting the National Volunteering System.

We are also learning that volunteering is proving to be playing a key role in bringing about transformative change in other countries such as Myanmar. A recent study on urban volunteering in Myanmar found that volunteers are highly valued and respected among the general population. The research found volunteers engaged across all ages, genders and ethnicities, with young people having particularly high participation rates. Many people are driven by a strong sense of altruism and religious faith to give back to their communities and do so across a variety of sectors, including health and education.

International Volunteer Day, December 5, gives us an opportunity to celebrate all that volunteers do in the world. We're fortunate that the Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada, recognizes the importance of volunteers to achieving the Global Goals. Last year, through Canada's volunteer cooperation agencies, volunteers contributed more than $15.8 million worth of in-kind support to organizations around the world. And this contribution is multiplied over and over again by volunteers around the world: those travelling near and far to make their contribution and have impact. Thanks to volunteers, the Global Goals don't seem all that difficult to achieve.

Evelyne Guindon is the CEO of Cuso International

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of CCIC or its members.

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