Call to Action


Volunteering in the Decade of Action




We celebrate the spirit of all forms of volunteering and applaud the action, contributions and effort of all types of volunteers throughout the world, helping to meet the goals and principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and ensure no one is left behind.


We acknowledge the shared sense of urgency and ambition to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the nature and conclusions of the global technical meeting on reimagining volunteering for the 2030 Agenda held on 13–16 July 2020.


We recognize the progress and collective efforts of United Nations Member States, the United Nations system, volunteer-involving organizations, civil society, the private sector and academia to implement the Plan of Action to Integrate Volunteering into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We also recognize the pivotal role volunteering has played in the recent global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Taking note of the incremental progress across the three objectives of the Plan of Action (ownership, integration and measurement), we pledge to do more to:

  • ensure that volunteering translates into more meaningful ownership of the development agenda by all people to achieve the SDGs, without distinction of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability or other status;
  • recognize through integrated national, sectoral and local plans how all types of volunteers can contribute as innovators, entrepreneurs, leaders, experts and valued partners to drive SDG action and progress; and
  • develop, pilot and use new tools and approaches to measure and better understand the scale, scope and economic and social contributions of volunteering as part of strengthening its knowledge base.



The vision: volunteering in the Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs


Volunteering is a unique resource for transforming and accelerating the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Throughout the Decade of Action, we will contribute to the collective efforts of all stakeholders in order to:

  • mobilize everyone, everywhere
  • demand urgency and ambition
  • supercharge ideas to solutions


In this Call to Action, we commit to – and call on others to do the same – implementing the vision of volunteering for the Decade of Action to:


  • recognize and support the full diversity of volunteering practices, particularly in the global South;
  • cultivate the transformational potential of volunteering;
  • ensure the volunteering policy environment responds to shifts in volunteering patterns and the sustainable development landscape;
  • better integrate volunteering into policies and planning as part of whole-of-society approaches to the 2030 Agenda;
  • encourage stakeholders to form new partnerships and alliances that can help maximize the impact of volunteering on the SDGs; and
  • encourage actors to invest in new ways that empower and protect volunteers, including new policies and safeguards, particularly for local and informal volunteers.


By committing to this vision, we will boost the principles of the 2030 Agenda by:


  • going further through targeted investment in the resilience of people and communities with diverse backgrounds through volunteering;
  • going faster with volunteering as a mechanism for whole-of-society partnerships that accelerate progress in addressing urgent global challenges like inequality and climate change; and
  • going together with volunteering as a channel to promote voice and ownership, particularly for women and girls, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, refugees and any other groups often considered excluded.


How will we achieve this vision?


Over the next decade, we will:


  1. Scale up access to volunteering and volunteering opportunities across the SDGs by:
  • boosting engagement with volunteers to strengthen integrated approaches across the SDGs, for example, in the areas of digital communities, financial inclusion, resilient cities, gender equality and social cohesion;
  • supporting ways to recognize informal volunteering as a relevant means to contribute to addressing global challenges that require local and people-centred action, without undermining its unique values and attributes; and
  • encouraging the private sector to scale up its support to diverse volunteer movements.


  1. Ensure volunteering is well supported beyond formal, organization-based opportunities by:
  • increasing resources for people who volunteer informally, including through interactive spaces for knowledge, training and information, online and on-site informal platforms to seek ideas and guidance from others, and tools and networks that enable volunteers to reflect and learn from their experiences and provide a sense of solidarity, even for those acting alone; and
  • developing new forms of engagement, coordination and cooperation that preserve the spirit of informal volunteering, for example, as part of preparedness plans to support surges in volunteering during crises or to sustain engagement from one issue-based campaign to another.


  1. Address inequalities and risks in volunteering by:
  • removing barriers to volunteering for the groups furthest behind, including through policies and programmes that cover the costs for volunteer activities when it comes to accessing technology;
  • promoting measures that foster equality, diversity and inclusion and open up the most beneficial opportunities, rewards and accreditation to those who would benefit most, for example, young people who are not in education or employment;
  • promoting and enacting policies, safeguards and norms that remove inequalities in volunteering tasks and ensure benefits are shared between and across genders, age groups and social groups; and
  • ensuring the safety and security of volunteers by implementing new models for insurance and physical and mental health support, as well as building support for the protection of volunteers in humanitarian work.


  1. Strengthen structures for people’s ownership of development processes through volunteering by:
  • facilitating structures and initiatives, such as voluntary commissions, that bring people together through voluntary action to look at complex development challenges;
  • ensuring volunteer-led data and insights are meaningfully integrated into development processes, for example, through investment in both digital and non-digital data and information platforms that allow people to contribute and create knowledge on the issues that affect them, as well as on volunteering; and
  • recognizing and supporting people led mechanisms and formal and informal bodies, such as volunteer SDG councils or social dialogues at the local, national and regional level that enable volunteers and their supporters to share their needs, priorities, feedback and experiences as part of whole-of-society responses.


  1. Create new models for voluntary action to supercharge ideas to solutions by:


  • creating and widening space and resources for experts to volunteer their knowledge and capacities – time-bound and context-specific – for Member States and other development actors to help design sustainable development solutions;
  • scaling up and investing in new models and tools that align volunteer-led sustainable development solutions to volunteer-identified challenges;
  • supporting the creation of informal virtual spaces where innovative ideas for voluntary action can be shared by diverse stakeholders, including volunteers, policymakers, practitioners, academia and the private sector to accelerate all types of knowledge-sharing, including the sharing of local knowledge, beyond immediate communities; and
  • continuing to mobilize resources and energy to create opportunities for individuals and teams to provide new perspectives from openly available data to supercharge ideas to solutions.


  1. Measure the impact on the well-being of volunteers and the 2030 Agenda by:
  • investing in national data on participation trends and patterns to help understand who volunteers and the roles that volunteers play, especially, using global standards and tools developed by the International Labour Organization;
  • diversifying approaches to understanding the costs and benefits of volunteering, not only for the organizations that benefit but also for volunteers themselves and society as a whole, in addition to promoting culturally-sensitive ways to assess impact; and
  • strengthening impact models to allow policymakers to better understand the lasting impact of volunteering at all levels, as well as the relative impact of different models and approaches to volunteering, and further recognize its value resulting in policy coherence and integration.


  1. Strengthen the alignment of volunteer efforts with SDG gaps and challenges by:
  • ensuring the diversity of volunteering practices, approaches and models are thoroughly assessed as policy options to transform and fill SDG gaps and address challenges at the global, regional, national and local levels, including through their integration into national, sectoral and local strategies and plans; and
  • better reflecting the diverse and unique approaches to reimagined volunteering and their transformational and accelerative effect on SDG pathways and trajectories led by Member States by moving beyond the positive contribution of interventions and projects only involving volunteers.


How will we work together?


  • We call for the passion, commitment, leadership, creativity and innovation of all stakeholders, including United Nations Member States, the United Nations system, volunteer-involving organizations, civil society, the private sector and academia to engage in our reimagined approach to volunteering for the Decade of Action.
  • We call for deepening the engagement and shared solidarity of the global community of volunteers to help deliver the SDGs.
  • We call for the sharing of new evidence and knowledge to strengthen the potential and impact of volunteering for the 2030 Agenda as well as the financing to support the generation of evidence and knowledge, particularly by actors from the global South.
  • We call for expanded and varied kinds of collaborations, alliances and partnerships that bring together different viewpoints, skills and models in more rapid and flexible ways to reenergize volunteering for the SDGs.

Looking forward to 2030 and beyond, we aspire to celebrate the spirit of all forms of volunteering and applaud action, contributions and efforts by all types of volunteers throughout the world by reimagining volunteering for the 2030 Agenda during the Decade of Action.