Volunteering for a sustainable society requires strong and reliable framework conditions, emphasizes the Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband Berlin shortly before the start of the Berlin Volunteer Days “Common Cause”. The Volunteer Days initiated together with the Tagesspiegel are dedicated this year to sustainability in particular. With their commitment, civil society actors show new ways and make a contribution to a fairer and more solidary society, more equal opportunities and a democratic, participatory culture, according to the result of a specialist event in the run-up to the volunteer days.
More than 50 volunteers, volunteer coordinators, employees from administration, politics, science and companies took part in the conference. Sustainability also includes poverty reduction, gender equality, participation, affordable and clean energy and fewer inequalities. There are many similarities here with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Volunteers help homeless people, support refugees, stand up for the rights of people with disabilities or get involved in climate protection in the neighborhood. For the regional parity association and the 30 partners who support the volunteer days, climate protection and social justice therefore belong together. “Sustainability is a community project,” says a declaration by the parity community: Without citizen participation, there can be no living democracy and no sustainable cities.
Citizens “must be even more involved in the development of neighborhoods and urban planning measures” because this is the only way to “prevent disenchantment with democracy and strengthen social cohesion”. Inclusion and participation are essential conditions for a sustainable society. For the sustainable management of ecological and social challenges, politics, science, business and civil society are needed in equal measure. “Volunteers and civil society should be involved as experts in the development of sustainability strategies,” is one of the conference’s demands. “Change can only succeed through partnership and cooperation on an equal footing,” it says: “Voluntary commitment can be a motor for sustainability here.”