Global Volunteers and the Sustainable Development Goals
Global Volunteers’ work is deeply rooted in respect for every person’s right to strive to reach their full human potential. In a global society where every individual – regardless of age, sex, background, or circumstances of birth – deserve basic rights, broad-based development can lift all people up together. The United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are intended to direct governments, NGOs, faith-based organizations, corporations and all members of civil society who wish to work to achieve “a better and more sustainable future for all.” The SDGs, established in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, and intended to be achieved by the year 2030, were preceded by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which spanned the years 2000 – 2015. The eight MDGs were drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration adopted by every member nation at the time (191), and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000. Read on for a modern history of Global Volunteers’ contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Foundation for Global Volunteers’ Development Work
By the time the MDGs were defined by world leaders, Global Volunteers had already nurtured relationships with local leaders in 27 countries on six continents over the previous 16 years. Engaging local people and volunteers together in sustainable service projects in the areas of community infrastructure, childhood education and care, and family health care, our goal was to establish and maintain long-term, comprehensive development partnerships to serve children and their families.
Our blueprint was the Philosophy of Service authored by Global Volunteers’ co-founder and CEO Bud Philbrook, a development professional and lawyer. Within this discerning document are the guiding principles which still govern Global Volunteers today, specifically working:
• At the invitation of community partners
• Under the direction of local leaders
• On sustainable community-based projects
• Hand-and-hand with local people
• To the benefit of local children and families
Volunteers have always served in two primary program areas: First, helping parents and local leaders deliver the UN-inspired 12 Essential Services focusing on children – eradicating hunger, improving health, and enhancing cognition. These loosely follow the SDGs and the MDGs before them.
Second, volunteers teach conversational English – the international language of opportunity – to children and adults in elementary through university classrooms, businesses, children’s homes, daycare centers, government offices, and English language “camps.”
The Introduction of the SDGs in 2015
The final MDG report in 2015 confirmed that global goal-setting can lift millions of people living in the developing world out of poverty, empower women and girls, improve health and well-being, and provide vast new opportunities for better lives. But at the same time, world leaders called for sustainable and inclusive action plans that don’t rely on aid flows – which did not materialize in the previous 15 years. During that time, progress was not uniform across the world with some countries making big strides and others making little to no progress toward finishing the job started by the MDGs.
While the MDGs mainly targeted developing/least developed countries, the SDGs target and uniformly address all countries of the world. In this regard, the “global goals” made “Five Transformative Shifts” for the 2030 agenda toward a collaborative reality to leave no one behind, and to put sustainable development at the core.
Many of these improvements are central to Global Volunteers’ Philosophy of Development, and align with our 37-year history of working under the direction of local people to help children reach their full potential. Following is a brief description of Global Volunteers’ work toward 10 of the 17 SDGs:
Goal #1: End Poverty in all its Forms Everywhere
Goal 1 calls for an end to poverty worldwide by 2030. It aims to ensure social protection for the poor and vulnerable, increase access to basic services, and support people harmed by climate-related extreme events as well as other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.
Global Volunteers addresses Goal 1 by:
- Supporting quality education and preschool programs, and providing books, supplies, educational toys and other school resources
- Providing parental and adult education in economic empowerment, enterprise development, and skills training, and providing staff and volunteer support for women’s co-ops
- Directly delivering fortified meals, hand-washing stations, EarthBoxes and medical supplies to children and families in extreme need
- Fundraising to purchase materials and resources for service projects requested by community partners that directly address poverty issues
Goal #2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 2 calls for ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. It commits to universal access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food at all times of the year, sustainable food production systems, resilient agricultural practices, equal access to land, technology and markets, and international cooperation on investments in infrastructure and technology to boost agricultural productivity.
Global Volunteers contributes to Goal 2 by:
- Providing maternal and infant nutrition through supplements and fortified meals
- Teaching proper nutrition at parent workshops and to students and teachers in classrooms
- Distributing EarthBox household gardens to families and teaching how to plant and maintain them
- Demonstrating how to raise chickens and produce eggs in chicken coops
- Helping build potable water and rainwater harvesting systems
- Fundraising and grant writing to provide all these resources to families and schools
Goal #3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 3 seeks to ensure health and well-being for all, at every stage of life. The Goal addresses all major health priorities, including reproductive, maternal and child health; communicable, non-communicable and environmental diseases; universal health coverage; and access for all to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and vaccines. It also calls for more research and development, increased health financing, and strengthened capacity of all countries in health risk reduction and management.
Global Volunteers contributes to Goal 3 by:
- Providing direct care in the areas of physical, mental and dental care
- Teaching health and nutrition workshops to parents, caregivers and teachers
- Supporting mothers and pregnant women at home through staff caregiver visits
- Demonstrating proper handwashing and teeth brushing in schools
- Caring for expectant mothers at Global Volunteers’ pre/post delivery residence
- Supplying hand-washing stations with soap and clean water
- Conducting summer youth recreational projects
- Distributing bed nets to families
- Installing fuel-efficient stoves
- Nurturing babies and toddlers at children’s homes, childcare centers and hospitals
- Fundraising for all above facilities and resources
Goal #4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 4 aims to ensure all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. It centers around equal access to affordable vocational training, eliminating gender and wealth disparities, and achieving universal access to a quality higher education.
Global Volunteers supports Goal 4 by:
- Serving as volunteer conversational English teachers, math, reading and science tutors, or classroom, summer school or library resources on every service program worldwide
- Transferring health, hygiene, nutrition, and child-rearing information to parents through interactive workshops
- Encouraging literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children
- Helping build, repair and maintain preschools and primary, secondary, vocational and alternative school classrooms, libraries and lavatories
- Fundraising to purchase supplies for these projects
Goal #5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 5 strives to provide girls and women with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes, and eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres.
Global Volunteers contributes to Goal 5 by:
- Sharing with girls and women life skills needed to succeed in school and careers
- Presenting family workshops on domestic harmony and support
- Introducing alternatives to teen pregnancy and marriage to female students
- Providing resources for private enterprise to families
- Preparing women with marketable skills through community co-ops
- Fundraising to provide resources supporting these projects
Goal #6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 6 puts water and sanitation at the very core of sustainable development, critical to the survival of people and the planet. It not only addresses the issues relating to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, but also the quality and sustainability of water resources worldwide.
Global Volunteers addresses Goal 6 by:
- Providing hand-washing stations to families and schools
- Installing rainwater harvesting systems at community facilities and homes
- Helping build school and community latrines
- Fundraising and grant writing for all these projects
Goal #8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
Goal 8 seeks to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth as well as employment and decent work for all. Eradicating poverty will only be possible through stable and well-paid employment. So it is vital to promote full and productive employment and decent work for everyone the world over.
Global Volunteers contributes to Goal 8 by:
- Facilitating and supporting women’s co-ops and partner community enterprises
- Providing free conversational English skills training by volunteers
- Hiring, training and promoting in-country staff
- Conducting sales, marketing and entrepreneurship workshops
- Teaching business skills in vocational institutions
- Demonstrating village chicken and egg production
- Fundraising to provide resources for these projects
Goal #16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development
Goal 16 aims to cultivate peace, justice and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions. At the core of sustainable development is the absence of all forms of violence, and collaboration within governments and communities to end conflict and insecurity.
Global Volunteers supports Goal 16 by:
- Building development partnerships at the local level and working under the direction of community leaders
- Honoring local wisdom in defining community service projects
- Working hand-in-hand with local people without personal agendas
- Respecting democratic decision-making where the diversity of opinions is foremost
The Preamble for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. We recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.