Rising to the Challenge: Volunteering and the Sustainable Development Goals

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NVW 2019 Blog Series: Part 2

On this second day of National Volunteer Week (NVW), let us celebrate volunteers and organisations that lift communities by contributing to reaching the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs)! That’s the volunteer factor!

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the SDGs to mobilize global efforts to improve social, economic, and environmental conditions around the world by 2030. Volunteer Canada is committed to focusing on the strong link between Canadian society’s more pressing challenges and the efforts made by volunteers to reach the SDGs.

How is each volunteer act built into the SDGs? Find out exclusively during this year’s NVW through an infographic and a few volunteer stories.


Last December, Volunteer Canada worked with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to produce a report entitled « Volunteering and the Sustainable Development Goals ».  The infographic created using the results from this research is now available. You can use the most compelling information and data to explain the link between volunteering in Canada and the SDGs to your volunteers and your communities!

Volunteer Stories

Over the past few weeks, Volunteer Canada has been gathering stories from organisations and individuals around the country. These highlight how their efforts contribute to lift our communities in the pursuit of a common goal… A sustainable future for all! Read the stories below contributed by five authors who embodies the Volunteer Factor!

Tina from Parks Canada Agency Banff National Park

In Banff National Park, since 2010, numbers of volunteers have doubled, and hours have quadrupled.  On average, 1,200 volunteers, as individuals and in groups, contribute over 24,000 hours annually, to tackle projects such as invasive species removal, wildlife protection, habitat restoration, litter-picking, education visitors, and research and monitoring ecological indicators (water quality, amphibians, etc.).

Young, old, international and local alike give back to the park in these significant ways, ensuring that a very busy park, with a delicate mountain ecosystem with iconic wildlife, is sustainable within the Canadian Rockies UNESCO World Heritage Site. All the above helps Canada meet the targets in the sustainable development goals.

Author: Tina Barzo

Emily from UNICEF uOttawa

UNICEF uOttawa is a club on the University of Ottawa campus. We are an event-based club that raises funds and awareness of international crisis around the world that affect the rights/wellness of children. In honor of that, we do our best here to speak out for them, because often they can’t do so for themselves.

Our work supports the UN’s SDGs, with a particular focus on #1-6.

We hope our club continues to grow in a meaningful way – have dedicated individuals represent our cause and continue to bring awareness to the many issues children face around the world. We also really believe in a healthy university club culture that fosters collaboration. That way we can empower one another to do what we do.

I personally believe that IMPACT is as small as showing up! And showing up can mean being the person willing to listen to, support, or speak out about UNICEF’s cause. And being involved can mean contributing a monetary donation to our online fundraiser, sharing a post, going to one of our events, or becoming a volunteer to represent children around the world. After all, we were all children once, and I believe that preserving childhood is just as important as saving life itself.

Author: Emily Jin

Lindsay from Kelowna, BC

Seven months ago, I began a journey in my community to build a network and find resources to build a sustainable future in Kelowna, BC.

I began with a goal to build partnerships. So far, I’ve become a founding member of the not-for-profit Okanagan Sustainability Leadership Council (OSLC)  (#6,7,8,9,11,13,15,16,17), began a podcast (As We Speak) and wrote a local column focused on sustainability and mental wellness (#11,15,16,17), volunteered for a local non-profit event that brought entrepreneurs and the tech community together (#8), and co-founded a social enterprise (www.sharity.tech) to assist non-profit organizations onboard ‘professionals as volunteers’ and share resources (#9,11,16,17). I’ve applied for two volunteer board positions (one related to women-at-risk, and one related to housing affordability). In the process, I have been able to draw closer to my community, and using that familiarity, to build a broader vision for our region as a whole (#16,17). Volunteering is making a world of difference in my life and has helped me achieve the goal of making sustainable partnerships an active part of who I am!

Author: Lindsay

Keely from AIDS Committee Windsor

By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases.

As a community that recognizes the complexities of client care, we understand the intersection of multiple oppressions that our service users often face. Building capacity around HIV/AIDS will not only help your organization address stigma and discrimination, but also aid in addressing the multiple oppressions and social issues that affect our shared clientele. Building HIV/AIDS capacity is just one step in working together to increase the well-being of our community as a whole. A key objective of HIV prevention initiatives in Ontario is to create partnerships to address the social determinants of health (SDOH), which influence an individual’s vulnerability to HIV infection and the quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS.

Author: Keely Murdock

Dress for success Ottawa

By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.

Since opening our doors in January 2011, Dress for Success Ottawa has provided support to several thousand women. What these women have in common is that they want to work and are ready to make positive change for themselves and their families. But, through challenging circumstances, they may have forgotten, or may never have known, that they are important, valuable members of our community who have a lot to offer potential employers. Dress for Success suits women for employment, from the inside out.

Author: Dress for Sucess Ottawa

Volunteer Canada wishes to thank all of you who have provided content for this blog.  We send a BIG shout-out to those of you who lift our communities toward a more sustainable future.  YOU are the volunteer factor!

Happy NVW 2019!

Did this blog inspire you?  Share your comments on how you contribute to reaching the SDDs as a volunteer during NVW 2019 by using the hashtags #NVW2019 and #VolunteerFactor!

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