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Volunteers Should Contribute to Government Decision Making


25 June 2015 at 11:04 am
Xavier Smerdon
Volunteers are playing a vital role across the Asia-Pacific region in making Governments more accountable and responsive to their people, but their contribution is seriously under-valued, a new report from the United Nations Volunteers program reveals.

Xavier Smerdon | 25 June 2015 at 11:04 am


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Volunteers Should Contribute to Government Decision Making
25 June 2015 at 11:04 am

Volunteers are playing a vital role across the Asia-Pacific region in making Governments more accountable and responsive to their people, but their contribution is seriously under-valued, a new report from the United Nations Volunteers program reveals.

The State of the World’s Volunteerism Report 2015 is described as the first global review of the role of volunteers in improving the way citizens are governed and engaged.

It draws on evidence from around the world, including case studies from the Asia-Pacific region, and specifically India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and China.

The report said it shows how volunteers are working with Governments and civil society to hold those in power to account, to influence policies and laws and to represent the voices of those who are often left out of development decisions such as women, youth and marginalised groups.

It calls on Governments to do more to include volunteer voices in decision-making if they want to achieve more inclusive- and ultimately more effective – development.

More than one billion people volunteer globally and many are in the forefront of efforts to improve the way they and their fellow citizens are governed and engaged.

Speaking at the launch of the report, UNV’s Deputy Executive Coordinator Rosemary Kalapurakal said “the potential of volunteers to help create truly people-centred development is enormous, but, as yet, far from fully tapped”.

“In order to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals we need to see 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, including women, youth and other groups who may be marginalised.”

The report finds that countries that provide a supportive “enabling environment” for volunteers tend to reap the rewards of their inclusion in decision-making.  It praises some Governments such as Peru, Mozambique and Norway who have passed laws and set up frameworks to formalise the contribution of volunteers.  

But it says too many other Governments are failing to acknowledge – and leverage – the immense potential of volunteers to help them chart a more successful development path.

It calls on all Governments to “go beyond the rhetoric of participation” and take concrete steps to help the world’s volunteers actively contribute to the decisions that affect people’s lives.

Recommended steps include:

  • Engaging more volunteers  in the process of crafting policies and putting them into action

  • Integrating volunteers formally into national development frameworks and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) strategies

  • Engaging more volunteer women, youth and marginalised groups in local and national decision making

The UNV said the aim of the 2015 State of the World’s Volunteerism Report is to spark a global conversation about the role of volunteers in the area of governance that is so critical to future development success.


Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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