James O’Brien of the Volunteer Groups Alliance has been taking part in the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) at the UN, which is overseeing the implementation of the SDGs.
He has shared a great speech by Magda El Haitem (a returned volunteer of France Volontaires). She spoke on behalf of the Volunteer Groups Alliance of which Comhlámh is a member. We look forward to hearing more from James about the outcomes of the HLPF.
Image above is Magda El Haitem France Volontaires volunteer addressing the General Debate
Speech by Magda El Haitem, France Volontaires, on behalf of Volunteer Groups Alliance.
Chair, excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Magda El Haitem.
I am honoured to speak today on behalf of volunteer groups.
I am a 26 years old French international volunteer. I volunteered with France Volontaires in Tunisia for 2 years, working on election observation for the first Presidential election under the new constitution, on capacity building of young female candidates for the next municipal elections and finally on transitional justice with Lawyers without borders.
As a lawyer, I wanted to be engaged in the fight for Human Rights.
So, I volunteered.
International Volunteering is about mutual enrichment and reciprocal exchange, because volunteers are fully embedded in the local context. It gives you the chance to share cultures,experiences and knowledge and mix them together, to take the best out of each, and that’s what international volunteerism is about.
As international volunteers, we hold a message from both countries and we are proud to be those ambassadors and to contribute to partnership between organizations and countries. Given that our societies are currently facing a challenge of living together and mixing cultures, volunteerism can be a strong lever of social cohesion and mutual understanding.
I am glad to share my experience with you because those volunteers’ stories need to be told. I am in front of you today but I am only the visible part of the iceberg. International and national volunteers are mobilized everywhere and on across all issues related to sustainable development, but they are often invisible and unrecognized even while they build strong bridges between countries and communities and help to ensure that no one is left behind.
The 2030 Agenda is a unique opportunity for 193 countries to place people at the center of sustainable development. Beyond their daily contribution to each one of the 17 goals, volunteers are at the heart of the global partnership and are a powerful lever of citizen mobilization to achieve the SDGs along with governments, civil society, private sector and academia.
While volunteerism is a universal phenomenon, it needs to be supported and enabled by governments to be effective. In recent years, we have seen an increasing number of success stories of governments supporting volunteering.
To maximise the contribution that volunteers make to SDGs implementation, we call on governments to:
– Develop supportive legislation and policies on volunteering
– Support volunteering schemes at national level
– Measure the role and impact of volunteers and capture that contribution in Voluntary National Reviews