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EWB Australia relies on the work of over 1200 members who actively volunteer their time to EWB, as part of the International Volunteer Day, we celebrate them and all our other volunteers. This year's International Volunteer Day asks us to give all volunteers a #GlobalApplause so we are! 

“Our people make a difference, not just in what they do with EWB, but in what they do with their careers and how they use their knowledge to tackle the world’s most difficult development challenges.” – Peter Baynard-Smith, CEO, EWB Australia

International Volunteer Day (December 5th 2016) by United Nations Volunteers, is an opportunity for organisations and individuals to celebrate and thank volunteers all over the world, while inspiring a new generation of volunteers to join them in acting for peace and development.

EWB Australia  has over 1200 members who volunteer their time to make a difference and redefine engineering as a human-centred profession both in Australia and overseas.   Our volunteers consist of university students, graduates, professionals, engineers and non-gineers who all have a significant impact across a wide range of EWB programs.  Whether it be delivering an EWB School Outreach workshops, leading a chapter, mentoring a Design Summit, providing pro bono support or working as a Field Professional overseas all of our volunteers share common humanitarian values and a passion creating a better world through humanitarian engineering. 

We thank all of our current and past volunteers in Australia and overseas for their commitment, dedication and passion in getting EWB Australia to where it is today and so in line with this year’s theme ‘‘#GlobalApplause – give volunteers a hand’ we give you all a round of applause!

International Volunteer Day 2016, volunteerism and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The purpose of this guidance note is to explain why IVD 2016 focuses on global citizens to make a difference beyond national borders, showing how volunteerism can play a more impactful role for peace and sustainable development. The guidance note also provides tools to support the organization of volunteer activities in sustainable development from IVD 2016 onwards. IVD 2016’s theme #GlobalApplause – give volunteers a hand, recognizes volunteers worldwide and all they do in making peace and sustainable development a reality.

First, what are the SDGs?

The SDGs are part of an ambitious agenda that aims to end extreme poverty, fight inequality, and address climate change. The Sustainable Development agenda, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015, is universal, transformational, people-centred and inclusive. These features are also shared by volunteerism.

Why are volunteers important in achieving the SDGs?

Volunteers are instrumental in achieving sustainable development and the Global Goals. Thanks to volunteers, in times of crisis and change, the very best in people and communities’ shines through. Volunteerism supports efforts to achieve sustainable development in communities worldwide. The SDGs call for long-term attitude and behaviour changes. Volunteers facilitate changes in mindsets by raising awareness or championing those changes and inspiring others. It simply is not possible to attain the SDGs without a wide range of people engaged at all stages, at all levels, at all times. This can be done through volunteerism. Volunteers are on the ground providing basic services to combat poverty, hunger, education and exclusion and to make sure sustainable development has a trickle-down effect reaching everyone.

  • Volunteers are often the first on the ground and the last to leave in humanitarian crisis and emergency relief efforts.
  • Volunteers help leave no one behind by reaching out to people, including those marginalized or difficult to reach, to bring people’s voices and knowledge to projects that build capacity and sustainable development. This is crucial to build ownership and localize the SDGs.
  • The universal nature of volunteerism is a vehicle for achieving sustainable development.
  • Volunteerism enables people to participate in their own development and strengthens social cohesion, leading to sustainable development for people by people.
  • Volunteers are motivated by values like those of justice, equality and freedom as expressed in the United Nations Charter.
  • Volunteerism promotes peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development by moving people to get involved in their futures.

What is International Volunteer Day (IVD)?

The International Volunteer Day (IVD), on December 5th, was designated by the United Nations in 1985 as an international observance day to celebrate the power and potential of volunteerism. IVD is viewed as a unique chance for volunteers and organizations to celebrate their efforts, to share their values, and to promote their work amongst their communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and United Nations agencies, government authorities, and the private sector. IVD recognizes volunteers worldwide and their contributions to sustainable development. International Volunteer Day celebrates the power and potential of volunteerism.

More information is available from the United Nations volunteer website.