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2022 State of the World’s Volunteerism Report: Building Equal and Inclusive Societies [EN/AR/RU/ZH]

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About the SWVR

Volunteerism is a powerful force, and an important part of the fabric of society. Globally, it remains an important vehicle for shaping and advancing development. Its potential to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development that delivers to all is, however, yet to be realized.

As countries and regions grapple with enormous challenges, one thing is clear: no single stakeholder, entity or sector can address these challenges alone. Now more than ever, partnerships are vitally important.

The fourth State of the World’s Volunteerism Report (SWVR) report, titled Building Equal and Inclusive Societies, shows that the ways in which volunteers and state authorities interact, collaborate and partner are vital for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.


Volunteerism plays a central role in strengthening people–state relationships. It promotes better governance, helps build more equal and inclusive societies, and fosters stability. Increasingly, volunteers across the globe are forging closer partnerships with state authorities to address urgent development challenges, from climate change, to ecosystem and biodiversity loss, to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As shown by the 2022 State of the World’s Volunteerism Report (SWVR) entitled Building Equal and Inclusive Societies, despite the devastating socioeconomic impacts of this pandemic, global interest in volunteering has not waned.

This latest SWVR presents new evidence on volunteer–state partnerships. It demonstrates how cooperation between volunteers and governments is helping build a culture of collaborative decision-making.

As the report illustrates, volunteerism offers new pathways for rights-based participation.

New partnerships between governments and volunteers from marginalized groups—women, persons with disabilities, slum-dwellers and the urban poor—are reconfiguring long-standing power relations. While volunteers have more opportunities to engage in activities that are meaningful to them, volunteers from marginalized groups remain disadvantaged. For instance, caregiving and domestic responsibilities limit the ability of women and girls to engage in volunteering in many countries. Addressing such gaps in volunteering practices and aspirations is vital to tackling exclusion and gender inequality.

The report also asks us to rethink how to engage volunteers as partners in development as we work towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As some countries start to build forward better from the pandemic, governments and other stakeholders need to work even more closely with volunteers, engaging with them as key partners and opening up space for them to collaborate on vital development solutions.
In doing so, we can help create a 21st Century social contract that is more inclusive and responsive to the needs of communities. This much is clear: drawing upon the incredible creativity, energy and expertise of volunteers will be crucial to shaping a greener, more inclusive and more sustainable future.

Achim Steiner
United Nations Development Programme

Toily Kurbanov
Executive Coordinator
United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme