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Commission on Voluntary Service & Action
Commission on Voluntary Service & Action (CVSA) is an all-volunteer, coordinating and consultative body of nongovernmental volunteer service organizations with over 200 member organizations that serve communities in need and are organizing for change and systemic solutions to problems. Founded in 1945, CVSA enjoyed NGO status with DPI beginning in 1946 and has had NGO Special Consultative Status to the Economic and Social Council since 2013. In the framework of paragraph 35, 39, 45, 47, 60, and 89 of “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and consistent with the “Voluntary Common Guidelines for Major Groups and other Stakeholders to Report to the HLPF on their Implementation of the 2030 Agenda” we submit this report to the HLPF meeting of July 11 through 20 under the auspices of ECOSOC for the purpose of providing input from the experience of hundreds of organizations CVSA works with in the United States to: encourage our government to carry out these goals and engage all stakeholders; and to offer other NGOs and stakeholders a methodology for involving people at the community level in taking ownership of the 2030 Goals, so that together we ensure “no one is left behind.”

In specific, this is a report on CVSA’s nation-wide Community Education Campaign for the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the U.S., which we launched in February 2016. The report brings to our membership of U.S.-based non-profit, nongovernmental volunteer-involving organizations, as well as small business organizations, religious leaders, colleges and universities, information, tools and training they can use to mobilize and educate their communities about the SDGs; and how to advocate to local, state, and federal government bodies for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

A/RES/70/1, Para. 35 “…The new Agenda recognizes the need to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies that provide equal access to justice and that are based on respect for human rights (including the right to development), on effective rule of law and good governance at all levels and on transparent, effective and accountable institutions.”

A/RES/70/1, Para. 39 “The scale and ambition of the new Agenda requires a revitalized Global Partnership to ensure its implementation. We fully commit to this. This Partnership will work in a spirit of global solidarity, in particular solidarity with the poorest and with people in vulnerable situations. It will facilitate an intensive global engagement in support of implementation of all the Goals and targets, bringing together Governments, the private sector, civil society, the United Nations system and other actors and mobilizing all available resources.”

A/RES/70/1, Para. 45 “We acknowledge also the essential role of national parliaments through their enactment of legislation and adoption of budgets and their role in ensuring accountability for the effective implementation of our commitments. Governments and public institutions will also Commission on Voluntary Service & Action July 10, 2016 Report to HLPF on our Contribution to the Implementation of the 2030 SDGs work closely on implementation with regional and local authorities, subregional institutions, international institutions, academia, philanthropic organizations, volunteer groups and others.”

A/RES/70/1, Para. 47 “Our Governments have the primary responsibility for follow-up and review, at the national, regional and global levels, in relation to the progress made in implementing the Goals and targets over the coming 15 years. To support accountability to our citizens, we will provide for systemic follow-up and review at the various levels, as set out in this Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The high-level political forum under the auspices of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council will have the central role in overseeing follow-up and review at the global level.”

A/RES/70/1, Para 60 “We reaffirm our strong commitment to the full implementation of this new Agenda. We recognize that we will not be able to achieve our ambitious Goals and targets without a revitalized and enhanced Global Partnership and comparably ambitious means of implementation. The revitalized Global Partnership will facilitate an intensive global engagement in support of implementation of all the Goals and targets, bringing together Governments, civil society, the private sector, the United Nations system and other actors and mobilizing all available resources.”

A/RES/70/1, Para 89. “The high-level political forum will support participation in follow-up and review processes by the major groups and other relevant stakeholders in line with resolution 67/290. We call upon those actors to report on their contribution to the implementation of the Agenda.”

1. Summary.

CVSA launched a nationwide Community Education Campaign for the Implementation of the SDGs in the U.S. in February 2016, run entirely by volunteers, with a phone campaign to inform over 200 community-based, nongovernmental volunteer-involving organizations across the country of the unanimous adoption of all 193 UN member states — including the U.S.— of the SDGs, and began scheduling meetings and group presentations about the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the need for their participation toward its implementation.

The organizations that CVSA represents involve volunteers in their work on the front lines of the social and economic problems stemming from growing poverty, hunger, lack of access to health care, lack of access to legal justice, as well as workers’ rights, problems with access to affordable clean water or affordable heat and electricity, and who work with local environmental issues, overall environmental protection, obstacles to sustainable agriculture development, and more. These organizations are located in urban and rural areas throughout the United States; CVSA also works with international volunteer organizations and works in solidarity with volunteer organizations throughout the world. Our Community Education Campaign for the SDGs is focused on the hundreds of organizations throughout the U.S. who seek sustainable development solutions here in the U.S. in solidarity with the people of developing nations and the people of other developed countries.

Through CVSA’s Community Education Campaign for the Implementation of the SDGs, we are working with these groups to provide the tools, information and training in organizing methodology needed to enable them to mobilize their constituencies in support of the SDGs and to participate in monitoring the progress. We have asked them to begin providing reports with current Commission on Voluntary Service & Action July 10, 2016 Report to HLPF on our Contribution to the Implementation of the 2030 SDGs data from their direct experience on current conditions that people in their community face in relation to the SDGs, as their contribution to an overview of where the U.S. stands currently compared to what is defined in the SDGs, and therefore have a material, evidence-based picture of what work needs to be done. We provide in this report the data from the initial reports we have received.

CVSA’s objective is to involve community-based nongovernmental volunteer-involving organizations throughout the country that are already engaged in serving people in need which are addressing problems of poverty, hunger, health care, housing, water, environmental destruction and other areas, and to utilize their experience, knowledge, expertise and leadership in building a groundswell of interest and involvement — from local level up — for the SDGs to be seriously planned for and carried out. We are building ownership by “the people” in the U.S. for implementation of the SDGs in the U.S. and in solidarity and cooperation with the people of all nations.

In the months of February through May, 2016, CVSA volunteers made in-person and indepth presentations about the SDGs to community and church groups in the New York City metropolitan area, northern New Jersey, Boston and Lynn, Massachusetts and has more presentations scheduled throughout the Summer and Fall of 2016. CVSA volunteers have spoken on the phone with over 100 additional organizations about the SDGs and sent them basic materials about the 17 Goals and how the 2030 Agenda was written over the past three years. We are mailing over 2,000 copies of our newsletter with full-length articles about our Community Education Campaign for the SDGs and a copy of the 17 Goals to people across the U.S. this month, explaining the role they can play in advancing these goals. Over 30 other volunteer-based community organizations across the country have now published articles on the Sustainable Development Goals in their own newsletters with their endorsement of the 2030 Agenda, as a result of CVSA’s contact with them. We are broadly publicizing the commitment made by the U.S. government, along with the other 192 member states, to the achievement of the SDGs in this country and around the world by 2030.

As we began the Community Education Campaign, we learned that 19 out of every 20 nonprofit or community-based organizations we contacted knew nothing about the SDGs until we called and explained it to them. None of the church leaders we spoke to and enlisted in the campaign knew of the SDGs previously, and none of the civic engagement counselors on college campuses we spoke to had heard of them. There has been no publicity in media and no promulgation by the U.S. government.

Upon learning what the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is, and reviewing the 17 Goals, and understanding how they are supposed to be carried out, we have received 100% agreement that the SDGs urgently need to be carried out in the U.S., are 100% relevant to unsolved and growing social, economic and environmental problems in the U.S. Those with global perspectives also understand that if the U.S. does not apply and implement the Goals here in the U.S., current U.S. economic, social and environmental policies will remain a major obstacle to the achievement of the SDGs around the world. Everyone we met with expressed interest in participating at some level in the planning for achieving the SDGs and to assist in monitoring their progress; their interest was materialized initially in their contributions of reports on conditions in Commission on Voluntary Service & Action July 10, 2016 Report to HLPF on our Contribution to the Implementation of the 2030 SDGs their community as they relate to the SDGs. These reports can be used as a baseline measurement for what needs to change and for what action is needed.

In Section 5 of this report you will find reports contributed by seven member organizations. Any nonprofit, nongovernmental, volunteer-involving organization based in the U.S. interested in contributing a report to CVSA about the conditions in your community and what your organizations is doing about it is welcome to contact us and we will provide the report format.

For full report please see pdf