It is increasingly recognised that faith leaders and faith-based organizations (FBOs) can be, and have already been, essential contributors towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the attainment of Agenda 2030. Nonetheless, to scale-up this potential, there is need for greater synergies between FBOs and other stakeholders, such as policymakers, NGOs, multilateral institutions, government agencies etc. FBOs also need guidance on how they can strategically engage with the SDGs to measure and evaluate their valuable contributions towards the broader global agenda and SDG progress on the ground.
Engaging with faith actors is essential for mobilising the tremendous power they hold in engaging masses of people. Whilst FBOs have long been engaged in areas such as humanitarian assistance, education and healthcare, they have less experience in environmentally-focused work, climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Nonetheless, there is a wealth of inspiration to be derived from religious texts and teachings as all religions call upon their adherents to care for nature. Therefore, it is essential to connect environmental issues with sacred texts and teachings, whilst providing faith actors with the scientific knowledge to guide their climate action. This will enable faith leaders to engage with their communities in explaining their collective and individual roles in the implementation of the SDGs. Simultaneously, it is essential that perceived faith-secular/science bridges are overcome and that new partnerships are forged between relevant stakeholders and actors for mutual benefit.
This is crucial, as globally, as of late 2020, we are not on track to achieve the SDGs and doing so requires the engagement from the full spectrum of society. Given that over 80% of the world population is affiliated with a religion or faith, faith actors will be essential moving forward and can play an invaluable part in building a more sustainable future.
The modules of this course were designed in partnership with KAICIID and UNEP.