International Volunteer Day highlights the connection between volunteering and sustainability

December 5 is International Volunteers Day. It’s a day to celebrate volunteers and the contribution they make to our communities. It’s also a day to reflect on the impact that volunteering has on our world.

Volunteers build resilient communities. The theme of this year’s International Volunteers Day is Resilient Communities. Building strong communities that make sure their members are healthy, the economy is stable, and that a network of social services is available to support people in need.

Volunteers are the lifeblood that gives this strength. They run the line at the footy, raise funds for the school computers, deliver meals to the elderly, or give a loved one a break from caring. You will find them on standby in case of fire, organising the local art exhibition, planting trees, and much, much more.

In our hyper-linked, cyber-driven world we sometimes lament days gone past when we felt our communities were closer and more connected than they are today. But I think we can let nostalgia get in our way. The strength of our communities is right in front of us, and it’s powered by volunteers.

You can see it as you drive up the Brooker on a Saturday morning, with all those parents and grandparents powering the local soccer, netball and hockey matches. It’s there when you swim between the flags at the beach, when you pop into the local library, pay a visit to the dog’s home, or discover the past in our world-class museums.

Volunteers build communities that are inclusive and connected. On International Volunteers Day we celebrate how our volunteers help us build resilient communities. Communities that support those that are vulnerable, that need a helping hand. Volunteers build communities that are inclusive and connected. They help out in times of trouble to give a mate a hand, and more importantly to give a stranger a hand.

Volunteers strengthen humanity globally. The United Nations have also recognised the incredible contribution that volunteers make, particularly in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals that are a shared aspiration for humanity by 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals are a call to action for all countries to achieve a better and more sustainable future. They include no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, good education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, and sustainable cities and communities.

The only way to achieve the goals is together—community, government, civil society and the private sector. Working together we will drive the achievement of these goals locally, nationally and globally.

The United Nations understand and celebrate that it is our volunteers that underpin these goals. Volunteers inspire and engage others, as well as take action to implement these goals through grass roots activities.

Our volunteers contribute toward a humanity that is fairer, that cares more, and does not leave anyone behind. They help our communities to be resilient and sustainable.

This is how fundamental volunteers are to our communities, they build resilience locally and strengthen humanity globally.

Dr Lisa Schimanski
CEO, Volunteering Tasmania