June 25th, 2018

Volunteering and the SDGs - AVI CEO Paul Bird

On 27 September 2015, all 192 members states of the United Nations (UN) unanimously resolved “between now and 2030, to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. We resolve also to create conditions for sustainable, inclusive and sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and decent work for all, taking into account different levels of national development and capacities”.

This Agenda 2030 includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 targets and builds on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).       (continues below)

There are two critical changes to the previous MDGs.  Firstly, the SDGs apply to all UN members, including Australia. Each nation must demonstrate its commitment and progress to the SDGs. It is Australia’s turn next month. 

Secondly, the importance of volunteerism to attaining the SDGs has been recognised, principally through SDG17 - Partnerships. Indeed, the UN Secretary General has said that the SDGs will not be reached without volunteerism.

As goals for sustainable development, it is vital that volunteering is designed, implemented and evaluated as effective development. Development that is long-term, incremental, locally owned and led, builds capacity, is technical as well as adaptive and is respectful and culturally appropriate.

As pioneers of volunteering for development, AVI has had the opportunity and responsibility to provide leadership in volunteering for the SDGs in Australia and internationally.

AVI has developed a responsible volunteering for development practice note with our peak body, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) that guides its 142 members, and we seek your support through our end of year appeal to develop practical online tools from this practice note to assist all organisations in volunteering for development.

We have also worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to ensure volunteering for development case studies are included in Australia’s report to the UN next month on the SDGs.

Lastly, I had the opportunity to present on volunteering for the SDGs to delegates at the annual Volunteering Australia conference in Sydney this week. 

The world has a plan for our planet, people, prosperity and peace – Agenda 2030 and its SDGs, with volunteering for development playing a vital role. There is no plan B.

Paul Bird


Paul presenting at NVC 2018