In 2000, countries around the world agreed to work together to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In 2015 these countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which succeeded and replaced the original eight MDGs.
These 17 new goals are much more encompassing, and therefor challenging, than the MDGs. They are however considered both desirable and achievable by 2030, provided both developed and developing countries work – and continue to work – in a concerted effort for their realisation.
Just as Palms Australia has been committed to achieving the MDGs, we are equally committed to the Sustainable Development Goals while continuing the work to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”.
Each of our volunteers is working in partnership with local communities to achieve some of these goals. Most volunteers’ work is aligned to several goals at once, and also contributes to sustainable development in ways beyond the scope of the SDGs. The importance of achieving these goals is central to our work.
Click on the links below to read about how Palms Australia’s volunteers are helping to achieve these goals.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are:
- No Poverty
- No Hunger
- Good Health
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean Water and Sanitation
- Renewable Energy
- Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
- Reduced Inequality
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Responsible Consumption
- Climate Action
- Life below water
- Life on Land
- Peace and Justice
- Partnership for the goals
Palms Australia volunteers are working in a variety of areas that support sustainable income development to alleviate poverty. These areas include grass-roots community income generation projects, sustainable agriculture, business, education and health.
By sharing skills with their local counterparts, our volunteers contribute to increased employability of individuals and the strengthening of institutions to support them. Each has a greater capacity to contribute to their wider community. Along with increased education, greater governance and efficiency in business means more employment opportunity and less risk of exploitation.
While all Palms Australia volunteers work to reduce poverty and thus eradicate hunger, numerous projects contribute directly to nutrition, sustainable agriculture and food security.
Sustainable farming projects preserve the environment for future use and promote diverse agriculture which supports communities’ broader nutritional needs (i.e. balanced diet). They also provide cash income for producers and the opportunity to trade for other foodstuffs.
Numerous health projects in which our medical volunteers work also contain nutrition components, which both ensures basic nutrition needs are met and families are educated in these essentials.
In all these projects Palms Australia volunteers share skills with their local counterparts, so knowledge of these practices is preserved in the community for sustainability.
Through skill exchange with medical professionals and community health workers, including training nurses, doctors and midwives, Palms Australia’s medical volunteers contribute to greatly improved capacity of national health services to ensure skilled health personnel are available to the communities. This increased capacity means reduced rates of mother/infant mortality, improved emergency response and generally better treatment and services.
Volunteers working in disability empower particularly vulnerable members of the community to ensure that they too are able to protect themselves from disease and able to access services.
Palms Australia’s volunteers working in health, education and community development contribute to educational programs targeting health issues common in remote communities such as HIV/AIDS, TB, maternal/infant health, malaria, dengue fever and cholera. Aside from reducing the instance of illness and disease through awareness and prevention, education combats certain myths about supposed causes and false “cures”, thus reducing the stigma also often suffered by victims. Volunteers also assist to develop training in how to stay healthy, such as nutrition and hygiene programs, or drug/alcohol awareness.
Improved communication systems, such as those developed through Palms Australia’s Connect East Timor program, have greatly increased access to health personnel in cases of emergency, accidents and maternity in remote areas.
Palms Australia has volunteers working with teachers at early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary levels. By working with local teachers, our volunteers ensure the skills to continue educating future generations are developed and remain in the country.
Support for non-formal education, such as adult literacy, life skills, village schools and health/social awareness programs, reinforces to communities the importance of early education for young people, while also addressing the education gap experienced by many adults in subsistence cultures.
Palms Australia’s volunteers also provide training to administrative staff who will ensure national education systems continue to run efficiently, including teachers’ salary provision, curriculum and resource development and assessment and ongoing teacher professional development.
Gender is a cross-cutting issue across all Palms Australia volunteer placements. By supporting women in agriculture, education, health, administration, industry, disability, community development and other professions, our volunteers contribute to a more equal society for our female counterparts and their children.
Through the education and training of girls and women, volunteers contribute to an increased standing for women, increased enrolment of girls at school and greater capacities of women to earn a livelihood. Such empowerment of women increases their confidence to be heard and respected as equal members in society, and community acceptance of their right to do so.
The education of girls and women is also demonstrated to have numerous health and education benefits for the family and broader community, including improved nutrition, sanitation, education and employment opportunities increasing with each generation.
Our volunteers also promote and actively contribute to local community workshops within their host organisations on the themes of gender equality, women’s empowerment and mutual respect. While promoting women, these sessions crucially include men in the dialogue, empowering them to support gender equality.
Decent Work and Economic Growth
Palms Australia volunteers are working in a variety of areas that support sustainable income development and increase employment opportunity. These areas include grass-roots community income generation projects, education, sustainable agriculture and business.
By sharing skills with their local counterparts, many Palms Australia volunteers contribute to the strengthening of institutions through the introduction of QA methodology, IT skills, finance, legal and governance processes. This provides greater employment opportunities and reduced risk of exploitation. In the rural sector, our volunteers enhance the lives of subsistence farmers through the promotion of diverse sustainable agriculture, which increases long-term productivity and income security. Education is of course the major contributor to increased employment. Volunteers in this field mentor local teachers and assist the organisation of colleges and schools to ensure a brighter future for all.
Life on Land
All Palms Australia volunteer placements are evaluated to ensure their environmental, social and financial sustainability. This is due to our commitment to development programs that can continue to serve future as well as current generations.
Further to this overarching consideration, some volunteers are involved in community agriculture and permaculture programs, which seek to ensure agricultural communities can gain subsistence and an income from their land, both now and for future generations.
Techniques that use but do not exploit local resources are favoured in community projects. Volunteers work with local counterparts to consider which agricultural and building techniques are most appropriate, both culturally and environmentally. Many of these projects consider ways to reverse past environmental mistakes, including re-forestation programs, encouraging biodiversity and retaining/enriching soil quality.
Partnership for the goals
All Palms Australia volunteer placements are part of a global partnership between Palms Australia, our overseas partner communities and Australian communities. Our volunteers act as resources; skilled workers sent to meet the needs identified by partner communities. Palms Australia’s placements are designed, scoped and evaluated as part of a collaborative process that values the contributions of all stakeholders and considers relevant research and national policies.
Palms Australia continues to work in partnership with Australian organisations to best meet the development needs of our partner communities. Our research partnerships contribute to a broader knowledge of which models of volunteering for development are most appropriate and effective in achieving the mutually-dependent outcomes of cross-cultural relationships and development.
Palms Australia continues to educate Australians about their potential role in global development, which includes promoting an awareness of global interdependence beyond an “aid” relationship. Through the building of cross-cultural relationships and promotion of fair and sustainable trade practices, Palms Australia promotes the core value of solidarity in achieving global justice.
Our volunteers contribute to a greater global awareness of the challenges of making poverty history and the steps Australians can take to contribute to this process. Through their interactions with local host communities, they share skills and expertise so that each learns from the wisdom and insight of the other of the potential for mutually beneficial and challenging developmental processes.