Global Technical Meeting on Reimagining Volunteering for the 2030 Agenda: SUMMARY OF DAY 1

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Changing mindsets and rediscovering the true spirit of volunteering for development spotlighted at the GTM2020 opening

When we think about volunteering, the common perception has been that volunteering is
about the North helping the South. But examples of people’s voluntary actions from across
all borders, countries and regions during health and environmental crises challenge this

“Beyond regional solidarity, countries of the South are working together through
volunteering”, said Ambassador Neil Pierre, G77 Coordinator, Permanent Mission of the
Cooperative Republic of Guyana to the United Nations. He further stressed the need to
change our mindsets to recognize the diversity of volunteering practices in both northern
and southern countries.

This was one of the key points raised during the opening session of the Global Technical
Meeting on ‘Reimagining Volunteering for the 2030 Agenda’ (GTM2020) which took place
virtually today. Over 1500 people attended the event from across the globe.

UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed opened the meeting by reminding the
global community that the efforts of 1 billion volunteers is an important foundation at a
pivotal moment for development to enable us to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But for volunteers to make an even bigger difference in local and global communities, their
contributions need to be better recognized, supported and integrated into wider efforts.


One way of doing this, according to Xavier Castellanos, Under Secretary General for
Programmes and Operations of IFRC, is by providing insurances, incentives and other
measures to support and protect volunteers from all backgrounds, particularly informal
volunteers, migrants and those furthest left behind.

The inclusion of all groups of people was another key thread that emerged during the
discussions. Both speakers and participants stressed the urgency of unleashing the power
of volunteering to build more equitable societies – for example, by using new technologies
and innovation to reach more people and allow for exchange of knowledge, skills and

“Volunteering has so much potential to transform societies and accelerate the Sustainable
Development Goals,” expressed Kamilla Sultanova, a volunteer at Global Dignity Finland.
UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner agreed, and furthered, “We tend to focus on the formal
sectors of our economy, and yet in our communities, there is a clear development
contribution through volunteering, both through the activities that volunteering delivers,
but also the ethos or spirit embedded when we work together”.

“We need to rediscover that spirit as part of development efforts”, Steiner concluded.

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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