The conference "The role of volunteering in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals – Nine years on from the European Year of Volunteering", was originally planned for 12 March 2020 and postponed several times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organisers (the European Economic and Social Committee's Group III – Diversity Europe Group, the Committee for Public Benefit and the National Institute of Freedom – Centre for the Development of Civil Society) are currently trying to reschedule the event. This is assuming, however, that the risks linked to the COVID-19 pandemic will sufficiently diminish to ensure the health of participants.
As a consequence of changing the date of the Conference, its title will be adjusted. The new title is: "The role of volunteering in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals – Ten years on from the European Year of Volunteering".
All those who applied to attend the conference on 12 March 2020 will have priority registration for the new date. Regular updates on the event will be published on the organisers' websites.
The aim of the conference is to reaffirm the important social and economic role of volunteering in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and to highlight that, in view of the growing societal challenges that the authorities of the EU Member States are often unable to meet, volunteers can play an effective part in achieving these goals by meeting social needs more rapidly and efficiently than public institutions. The role of volunteering should therefore be recognised and valued by all Commissioners under the policy of the new European Commission, and there should be long-term support for volunteers. There is a fairly widespread view that, following the end of the European Year of Volunteering, the issue had started to slowly fade from the European debate and, in general, was not visible among the initiatives of the European Commission, the Council or the European Parliament.
Poland has played an important role in boosting volunteering in the European Union, not least by making the theme a key issue in the Polish Presidency's programme during the European Year of Volunteering (2011), and actively drawing up conclusions with concrete recommendations for the future. At the same time, Poland also has good practices to share that are often unique at European level. These concern new forms of volunteering tailored to the possibilities and expectations of modern society, and the promotion of voluntary activities by the state. The conference will offer an effective platform to showcase these practices to civil society representatives from EU Member States and to representatives of EU institutions, research institutions and European umbrella organisations and to learn how these processes are implemented in other EU countries.
The conference programme, which offers an opportunity to highlight the importance of volunteering in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, will focus on the following thematic areas: 1) the current status of volunteering in the European Union and Poland and implementing voluntary activities, including in the context of the 2011 Council conclusions, (2) support for organisations and volunteers by public institutions, (3) international volunteering, and (4) social changes and their impact on the development of new forms of voluntary activity.