G20 Interfaith Forum Live

15 October 2020

G20 INTERFAITH LIVE/Get the latest access to conference coverage and reporting from our virtual conference below.

In order to view our conference proceedings, please view our playlist on KAICIID's YouTube channel. 

To access speaker biographies, the Forum agenda, policy briefings and recommendations from the regional consultations and the KAICIID Fellows and Youth forums click here.




Saturday, 17 October 

This kindly concludes the 2020 G20 Interfaith Forum. We invite you to check out the policy briefs and regional recommendations from these proceedings here. In order to read the closing joint statement from our organizers please click here.

Thank you again to the more than 2000 participants from 90 countries who joined these sessions. KAICIID stands with the interfaith community and the United Nations, and is committed to working with all of your through training, capacity-building, consultation and advocacy.

"It is fundamental to look at what unites us. Sometimes we think that there is a lot of diversity while what brings us together is just a tiny detail. Instead, what unites us is something we can all find in the traditions to which we belong, the values of mutual respect and friendship. " - H.E. Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna

“The G20 is a Forum which opens a discussion on the Sustainable Development Goals and the human goals of our planet. But the Interfaith Forum is also a way to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak for other brothers and sisters who are not in the G20: thousands of cultures and countries which have the same hope for peace.” - Prof. Alberto Melloni, Professor and UNESCO Chair in Religious Pluralism and Peace at the University of Bologna, Italy

“During the last five days it has been emphasised that the strength of religious leaders and institutions comes from the work at the grassroots levels and this is true. However, in order for such localised knowledge and experiences to capture the attention of policymakers they have to be articulated in a way that makes the recommendations of this Forum politically relevant, but without losing their moral and spiritual agenda.” - Dr. Abdullah Alhomaid, Secretary General of the National Committee for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue (NCIRD) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

"COVID-19 has shown us that the world is more interconnected than we think. That our societies are more fragile than we think. That our economies, and our progress, are less secure than we think. And the past five days, and the months to this G20 Interfaith Forum, have shown us that global cooperation, and solidarity are more important than ever before."

"Thank you to the more than 2000 participants who have joined us, from over 90 countries, over the past five days. Your active participation has enriched our work, and is testament to the enormous importance and representation of religious communities to the global landscape. " - H.E. Faisal bin Muaammar, Secretary General of The International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID)

“We are all stakeholders in this international system and I call upon us all to invest in the success of this historical summit – building a resilient and long lasting recovery, ensuring a recovery that tackles inequality and protects sustainability at its heart. All of the above underpinned by people safeguarding the planet and children.” - H.E. Dr. Fahad Almubarak, Saudi G20 Sherpa

This closes our lively discussions on Disaster Risk Reduction. We now warmly invite you to join our closing conference session, beginning in just a few moments.

“We’ve found that in preparing Friday sermons about disaster risk reduction and hazards and dealing with COVID-19, religious leaders have a really important role in providing information which is received by the community in a positive manner. They can help with educating people about the virus.” - Mr. Fadlullah Wilmot, Regional Program Manager for the Middle East and Africa for Muslim Aid

"One of our problems is that so many faiths are in conflict with each other which is why our lesson is to understand and respect each other, agree that you may not have the same points of views, you may not have the same views about faith, but there are many more things in which we can cooperate and make friends." - The Rt Hon Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, House of Lords, UK

"Faith leaders are on the ground and are trusted and we don’t think of them as a resource, we think of them as partners. So we try to work with them to be the change and to model the change that they want to see in their communities. That is the power of partnership with faith leaders." - Mr. Andrew Morley, President and CEO of World Vision International

"The Islamic Development Bank guided by new policies and strategies promotes social cohesion, inclusion and active participation of local, national and regional stakeholders for achieving impact on the ground that contributes to resilience building and long term social and economic stability development." - H.E. Dr. Bandar M. H. Hajjar, President of the Islamic Development Bank Group

"The latest figures from the UN describe the severe drought, the locust infestation and the global recession from the pandemic. 265 million people are now facing acute food insecurity. This is almost double what it was last year. Without being too alarmist, if we don’t address this crisis in a coordinated manner it is predicted to grow to be among the worst famines in human history." - Sister Sharon Eubank, LDS Charities and Relief Society Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“The pandemic stopped the movement of people around the world. As we know every single inhabitant of the world has a different lesson to learn and I think we have lessons to learn even after we overcome the pandemic. Therefore we need to find new strategic priorities, especially in regard to education and scientific research. But scientific progress is not enough, we also need free health services, especially in regards to the pandemic.” - Dr. Amal Al Habdan, Board Member of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

"I believe in the power of people to change their own lives, because change can only come from inside. And for people to change, they need to have the courage to expand those values that make life better for everyone and to bring healing and reconciliation to communities, especially for young girls and women." - H.E. Dr. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid Former member of the Shura Council in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and former Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and former United Nations Under-Secretary General

"The deterioration of the ecosystem deeply threatens the planet. Environmental issues are human made disasters and they pertain to relations with humanity, Creation and God. Therefore, they must be addressed with an ethical perspective. The ecological crisis is due to the abuse and misuse of Creation by human beings. In preventing and reducing Earth related disasters such as global warming, the role of religion is pivotal indeed in disaster reduction." - His Holiness Catholicos Aram I Keshishian, Patriarch of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia

Welcome to the final day of the G20 Interfaith Forum. We will start momentarily! If you would like to join the conference you can livestream from the website or follow along from our KAICIID's YouTube channel. For coverage of yesterday's discussions on climate change please click here

Friday, 16 October

“For us to be able to live in peace we need clean air and clean food. How can we live in peace when food and drinks are unclean, through the use of pesticides and injecting animals with hormones? All of this is bad for our health. I encourage the industrial and production sector to go back to the authentic and old ways of production. For example, generating electricity using water instead of using fuel or oil. I would also call on all households and families to plant more trees. It will be healthier and there will be peace.” - H.G. Bishop Anba Marcos, The Coptic Orthodox Bishop for the Diocese of Shoubra El Kheima; on behalf of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria

PD11: Practical Partnerships on Climate Change

“If political, business and religious leaders can fully comprehend the significance of the relationship between man and mother earth, and clearly ascertain the interdependence between human beings and nature, they will possess the key to finding globally viable, effective, and sustainable solutions.” - Sri Swami Svatmananda, Director of Sacred Divine Wisdom; KAICIID Fellow

PD10: Rainforest and Protection of Environment

"We should include religious leaders and multireligious institutions as development partners, involving them in multistate partnerships aimed at specific SDGs at local, national, and international levels. Second, to include religious literacy in the development agenda, in order to meet common citizenship, through a deeper understanding and acceptance of the religious and cultural diversity of our communities. And third, to involve policymakers and practitioners in dialogue sessions with religious leaders to identify challenges, opportunities and best practices to work together in peacebuilding activities, willing to continue to make partnerships to address climate change and its consequences." - Alejandro Williams Becker, Executive Director, Instituto de Dialogo Interreligioso and KAICIID Fellow, presenting on recommendations from the G20 Interfaith Youth Forum. 

PD11: Practical Partnerships on Climate Change

"It is the poor and marginalised who suffer first and who are most severely affected by this global environmental crisis. The effect of climate change, water insecurity and environmental degradation will contribute to increasing unrest and conflict ." - Dr. Thomas Lawo, Senior Advisor for Religion and Sustainable Development at the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and Acting Head of Secretariat Coordinator of the International Partnership for Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) in Bonn, Germany

PD11: Practical Partnerships on Climate Change

"There's one thing we all need to agree on and that is we must act now. We must put actions over words, and it's really time to increase the momentum on this, for religious communities to spearhead this, but also to expand outside the circle of religions and interfaith communities. " - Ms. Kiran Bali, MBE, JP, Chair of the URI Global Council of Trustees

PD11: Practical Partnerships on Climate Change

“All religious and political leaders and government representatives should involve young people in their decision making. Today, young activists are the largest mobilised movement supporting climate justice. We’re no longer the future, because climate change is now our present.”

"Religious leaders must support and stand alongside indigenous communities around the world. These populations are the most affected by all kinds of damage, from land invasion and depossession of their territories, to deforestation and climate change.” - Ms. Marylita Poma, Communications Officer at Interfaith Rainforest Initiative in Peru

PD10: Rainforest and Protection of Environment

"The situation of the Muslim and the Jewish communities in Europe, while worrying in general, has become even more acute in the context of COVID-19, whereas you know there have been preposterous claims, made particularly on social media, regarding their role in in propagating the virus" - Prof. Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

PD12: The Rule of Law, Human Rights and Religious Rights

"We have the religious leaders, and we have the scientists and policymakers. If you bring them in one room and ask them to bring a solution that will be a a real practical solution, it can be scaled down to the grassroots and community levels. We all know here that religious leaders are the link." - Prof. Auwal Farouk Abdussalam, Associate Professor at the Department of Geography at the Kaduna State University, Nigeria; KAICIID Fellow

PD11: Practical Partnerships on Climate Change

"If there is an attack against a mosque, all Christians and Jews, together, have to be leading the fight against Islamophobia. If there is an attack against Christianity, all Muslims and Jews, together, have to be fighting against this for the freedom of Christianity. And the same thing if there is an attack against a synagogue or a Jewish community. Christians and Muslims need to lead. This is interaction, this is the way that I think and I believe that we have to spread the idea that our rights must be reflected in 'the Other'." - Mr. Claudio Gregorio Epelman, Executive Director of the Latin American Jewish Congress

PD12: The Rule of Law, Human Rights and Religious Rights

"From the point of view of churches and religious communities, there is not always moral agreement or consensus on human rights agendas. Therefore it is important that before we start to promote human rights we have consensus on the respect of the universality of human rights. We all need to know that human rights are interdependent and interrelated. There is no hierarchy of rights" - Dr. Elizabeta Kitanovic, Executive Secretary for Human Rights at the Conference of European Churches

PD12: The Rule of Law, Human Rights and Religious Rights

"We live in an interconnected world – a drought or flood in one part of the world can disrupt supply chains, or move commodity markets in another with serious implications for the poor and for the vulnerable." - Dr. Iyad Abumoghli, Director of the Faith for Earth Initiative and Principial Policy Advisor at United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

PD10: Rainforest and Protection of Environment

We now invite you to join our panel sessions: PD10: Rainforest and Protection of Environment; PD11: Practical Partnerships on Climate Change; PD12: The Rule of Law, Human Rights and Religious Rights

Not able to join all of the sessions? You can follow plenary and panel coverage on our website. For coverage on the key outcomes of Thursday's plenaries and panels on women, youth and vulnerable communities, please click here.

It’s a blessed opportunity to have the togetherness of faith and governments at the G20...Please continue to prod us to take measures that may seem to contradict national self-interest, but are necessary to keep together the health of the earth." - Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, President of Green Cross Netherlands

“Climate change is not just an issue of science and technology. It is also a moral, ethical and spiritual issue. It is about how we live our lives, how we use and distribute resources and how much everyone is willing to contribute.” - H.E. Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President in the European Commission with the portfolio of Promoting the European Way of Life

“I truly wish that we were here under circumstances that provide reasons for optimism about climate change and the status of humanity’s response to it. But as people of faith, we are committed to honesty and truthfulness. And it’s important to recognise that we are far behind where we need to be, according to every reputable scientific body, in terms of marshaling the response that we need to do.”

“We feel that one thing that religious groups need to do is acknowledge the emotional dimension of the climate crisis: to recognise our fear, our despair, our frustration, even our anger that more has not been done to address this issue.” - Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith

“Today’s ecological challenges are not only related to globalisation. I would also say they are geopolitical, economic and philosophical…faith-based institutions have the crucial task to raise awareness of the dangers related to the destruction of the natural environment. - His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis of France, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and member of KAICIID Board of Directors

"To surmount the many obstacles that disrupt our focus on enhancing climate action and ambition, every decision, every investment, every action must be founded on the timeless values of selflessness and the singular purpose to touch many lives." - Dr. Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, Regional Director for Africa at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

“God has given us this extraordinary planet, and together with science and spirituality, with finances and faith, with policy and prayer, we can protect and preserve our lives and the lives of all with whom we share this sacred planet.”

“We are faced by a tragic global food shortage, a global land shortage, a global water shortage, but most critically what we are faced with is a global consciousness shortage. And it is for that, as people of faith and as leaders of faith, we have the opportunity to embody and to teach conscious living, choosing in every minute the core tenets of our faith: compassion, love, non-violence, care for the earth.” - Dr. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary-General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance

“Humanity today is struggling to harmonise the activities of a growing, rapidly developing and fractured global population with the reality of a finite planet and our shared destiny.” - Ms. Bani Dugal, Chairperson of the UN Task Force on Engagement with Faith-based Organizations

“I believe that the ethical dimensions of climate change should have a stronger voice in the global debate. The science is clear. Climate change is occurring at an alarming rate and human activities are the primary driver. Climate change exacerbates poverty and inequalities and triggers new vulnerabilities. In fact, it threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health and poverty reduction. Climate change could push more than 120 million more people into poverty by 2030.” - H.E. Aksel Jakobsen, State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seeks to preserve natural resources and environmental sustainability and achieve water security. It aspires to contribute to food security, protection of ecosystems and the quality of life in general, based on its religious and humanitarian principles." - H.E. Abdulrahman Abdulmohsen A. AlFadley, Minster of Agriculture and Environment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Welcome to Day 4 of the G20 Interfaith Forum. WE ARE LIVE! If you would like to join the conference you can livestream from the website or follow along from our KAICIID's YouTube channel

Thursday, 15 October

Our thanks and appreciation to the more than 2000 participants who have been engaging with our panels of experts at the G20 Interfaith Forum. This closes the live coverage for today. Please join us again tomorrow at 16:00 (GMT+3).

For a summary of Wednesday's plenaries and panels, please click here. If you'd like to learn more about the conference, check out the Road to Riyadh video

Just imagine for example, the Declaration on Human Fraternity being taught and discussed simultaneously around the world. Envision lively conversations in classrooms and on Zoom within and across countries. Through private philanthropy and with public support, religious leaders across traditions could support the development of short one-page lesson plans in multiple languages as part of an invitation to teachers and school systems, and maybe even at the level of the G7 or G20, not to disrupt or overhaul existing curriculum, but to integrate one or more of these texts, if only for an hour or two in classes as part of a global conversation.” - Prof. Thomas Banchoff, Vice President for Global Engagement at Georgetown University, USA

PD07: Education that supports peace, religious literacy, and cultural diversity

"When the taxation system is designed around a male breadwinner sort of model, it affects a woman's participation in the labour force and then further entrenches the economic inequality between men and women in society." - Ms. Asha Ramgobin, Director of Human Rights Development Initiative, South Africa

PD09: Inequality: gender, racism, and structural discrimination

"Together with freedom of expression, freedom of religion contributes to healthy debates regarding structures that discriminate and oppress women, including harmful practices that might be religiously motivated or at least claim to be. Freedom of religion or belief can therefore play a crucial role in the improvement of gender equality. It is important to note, though, that some women may wish to work for a greater gender equality from within their own religious tradition and not abandon religion. And this, of course, needs to be respected." - Ms. Lisa Winther, Senior Human Rights Advisor at the Stefanusalliansen, Norway

PD09: Inequality: gender, racism, and structural discrimination

“I think it is very important for us not to only teach about world religions in mainstream education, but also in informal occasions - workshops, extracurricular activities, for example. These are very helpful in teaching our young minds about the rituals that are shared by all religious communities.” - Prof. Priyankar Upadhaya, UNESCO Chair for Peace and Intercultural Understanding at Banaras Hindu University, India

PD07: Education that supports peace, religious literacy, and cultural diversity

"A new engagement of interreligious dialogue and cooperation needs to be focused, skilled, prepared and trained on specific areas where gender inequalities or discrimination against women or men, believers or non believers, citizens or migrants is somehow something that pretends to be a narrative, due to their diversity. Religious leaders need to show on one side what is a commonality that unites us, and, on the other side, how to respect diversity, without any confusion and any discrimination." - Imam Yahya Pallavicini, President of the Comunità Religiosa Islamica Italiana (COREIS) in Italy

PD09: Inequality: gender, racism, and structural discrimination

“Faith communities must continue to pray with their feet and hands in order to rid us of the insidious impacts of the ugly legacy of slavery, the blight of racism and the multiple forms of discrimination in our communities.” - Ms. Audrey Kitagawa, Chair of the Board of the Parliament of the World’s Religions

PD09: Inequality: gender, racism, and structural discrimination

"The reality of anti-racism must reach the chambers of lawmakers around the world in every country, so that the human family everywhere is related to with dignity and respect. But beyond legal considerations, ruling and policies, human solidarity, compassion, mercy and love should be what animate us deep within the chambers of our conscience, as we embrace more human and humane ways to relate to one another, regardless of skin color, place of origin, gender, or position in society." 

 “If racism is systemic, it is necessary to rethink how human beings are viewed. Until we start looking at every person as deserving honour, respect and dignity, then we will continue to instrumentalise people and put some as superior and others as inferior. I think we need today to mobilise to have access to a new humanity, so that we can leave every region of the world better.” - Dr. Ganoune Diop, Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Maryland

PD09: Inequality: gender, racism, and structural discrimination

“Governments must realise that addressing the needs of refugees and migrants is a shared global responsibility. There are many teachings in Sikhism that underscore this responsibility towards humanity and emphasise the importance of equity, due to the equality of all human beings.” - Dr. Pritpal Kaur Ahluwalia, Education Director of the Sikh Coalition and Co-President of Religions for Peace

PD08: Addressing needs of refugees and migrants and advancing solutions, with a focus on women and youth

"Human diversity is to be celebrated, and the presence of difference in the education environment can serve to enrich our pedagogical practice and encourage educators to be more sensitive to the evolving wellbeing and learning needs of all students.” - Dr. Scherto Gill, Research Fellow at the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace and Visiting Fellow at the School of Education, University of Sussex

PD07: Education that supports peace, religious literacy, and cultural diversity

"As a woman and a peacemaker at heart, I feel I should point out the significant evidence that exists, showing the effectiveness of formal and informal peacemakers. However, we are still largely underrepresented in the peacebuilding apparatus and system. I'm sure we all recognise that this has to change. And we all need to ensure the meaningful participation of women, girls and boys in peace processes." - Ms. Esther Lehmann-Sow, Global Director Faith & Development at World Vision International

PD08: Addressing needs of refugees and migrants and advancing solutions, with a focus on women and youth

"Over 243 million women and girls aged between 15-49 have been subjected to sexual and gender-based violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in the last 12 months. The poverty levels are expected to rise to 500 million people, diverting communities into extreme poverty. In this context, inequality and structural discrimination continue to intensify, not only in the fabric of our societies but also in challenging the universality of human rights systems which the international community has painstakingly built over half a century." - H.E. Adama Dieng, former UN Special Adviser of the Secretary-General of the Prevention of Genocide

PD09: Inequality: gender, racism, and structural discrimination

We've now concluded our main plenary session for the day. Please join us for the panel sessions: PD07: Education that supports peace, religious literacy, and cultural diversity; PD08: Addressing needs of refugees and migrants and advancing solutions, with a focus on women and youth; PD09: Inequality: gender, racism, and structural discrimination. Click here to join

When it comes to young people, how are we going to make sure that our youth are not attracted to extremist language because of extreme poverty, despair and the situation of being disenfranchised. - H.E. Aminata Toure, former Prime Minister of Senegal

“32 million girls of primary age are still out of school. 1 in 5 girls are forced into early marriage. Conflict and humanitarian crises have become more complex and protracted in the past 25 years leaving women and girls more vulnerable than ever before, especially to sexual violence.” - H.E. Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict

I can really see the role of religious leaders and faith-based communities. The emphasis on human dignity and fairness and justice needs to be coupled with actions in the field. How can we avail finance to those who need it from public sources, not just from donations? If you are empowering you will have the power to empower, what we need is fair opportunity. So if I talk about finance and opportunities and restructuring of debt I would go back to these kinds of principles for our legislators, for our governments and our creditors. - H.E. Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Envoy for Financing for Development

“Empowering those who suffer from inequality, because of an unequal distribution of power can only be achieved when those claiming power and supremacy over others are willing and prepared to give it up. The protection of the vulnerable can only be achieved by giving them the power and ability to protect themselves.” - Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community in Vienna, Austria

“I happen to think that women are not always the most vulnerable or the most victimised all the time. I happen to think women are also a remarkable power potential, and some of the most critical actors in the civic space and the intergovernmental space are women.”

“When we wish to promote a narrative of women’s empowerment and gender equality, a multireligious collaboration that brings together the various discourses of different religions can be one of the most empowering means of realising gender equality and building the sensitivity of communities to the value and presence, not only of women, but of the feminine.” - Dr. Azza Karam, Secretary General of Religions for Peace

“We owe it to women to have a real equality. Empowerment means to empower every woman, taking her for what she is and not depriving her of her religious values or beliefs, valuing the uniqueness in every domain and not downplaying the role of women who do not conform to the norm.” - Prof. Ursula Basset, Professor at Pontificia Universidad Católica, Argentina

“In our partnership with KAICIID over the years we have achieved wonders, in our ability to implement the values of dialogue, the tools as well and the understanding of this importance to places that have been torn by complex and by deep divides. Together we have reached over 111 countries where we train young leaders in a culture of peace and becoming peacebuilders in their communities.”

“This is a youthful problem. Half of the world’s population are under the age of the 25. We have seen how young people are taking to the streets voicing their concerns and forming a global movement that this is a time for action and a time to prioritise the SDGs.” - Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, Secretary-General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement

“The G20 places special emphasis on empowering women and providing opportunities for women, which allows them to live, work and thrive, with strong opportunities for women like financial inclusion. 980 million women around the globe are not able to receive access to basic financial services.”

“The empowerment of women is an integral part of sustainable and inclusive development. Countries will not be able to achieve their economical development goals without the overall participation of women in all areas.” - Dr. Hala Al-Tuwaijri, Secretary General of the Family Affairs Council of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Head of the Women's Empowerment Team at G20 Riyadh

“The world situation forces us to work hard to reduce tensions between religious groups. It may start from the top down and from the grassroots up. At the same time the dialogue must be based on reciprocity, confidence and cooperation.” - H.E. Rev. Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Prime Minister of Norway and Founder and Executive Chair of the Oslo Center

WE ARE LIVE! We welcome our 2000 participants to the G20 Interfaith Forum Live Coverage. Once again you can watch the conference live by clicking here. For a summary of Wednesday's plenaries and panels please click here.

Wednesday, 14 October

Thank you for joining us. This closes the live coverage for today's plenaries and panels. Please join us again tomorrow at 16:00 (GMT+3). For a summary of Tuesday's plenaries and panels please click here.

“I believe that it is very important for faith communities to be able to lead by example. This will be crucial in terms of the interaction of faith communities with the business sector and research and innovation. At the same time, faith communities have to be acknowledged as a partner with laboratories of  human centred artificial intelligence and digital technologies in general for health and well being as far as our analysis of COVID-19 is concerned.” - Prof. Marco Ventura, Full Professor of Law and Religion at the University of Siena, Italy, and Director of the Center for Religious Studies at Fondazione Bruno Kessler of Trento

PD04: Faith Communities in Partnerships to Address COVID-19

"The value of community is much higher than the value of individuality. And I think that's a very big part of their religion and a very big part of their culture [in Cambodia], their pagodas are open here and they are very closely following health policy." - Mr. Kevin O'Brien, Executive Director of the Handa Foundation

PD04: Faith Communities in Partnerships to Address COVID-19

“We should be focusing on the spiritual well-being of children, which is often not considered in their education, although studies have shown that spirituality contributes to strengthening people’s resilience, and can be considered a critical aspect in the response to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on children’s mental health.” - Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Director of Arigatou International in Geneva

PD06: Supporting Vulnerable Groups in Times of COVID-19

"From WHO's perspective, we would like to recognise faith communities as an integral part of Emergency Preparedness and Response, recognising that in many parts of the world, faith communities are part of the resilience and social cohesion building movements that come from the community."

 “We are seeing some pretty interesting global shifts, the first really is, these incredible dichotomies that we're seeing. We are living and  have had to live through these unprecedented lockdowns isolation and physical distancing measures. However, in many parts of the world and in many different communities we've seen these incredible displays of solidarity, looking to the community. And I think, faith communities have long been these communities of care often working amongst the most marginalised and vulnerable.” - Ms. Sarah Hess, Technical Officer on High Impact Events Preparedness at WHO

PD04: Faith Communities in Partnerships to Address COVID-19

"Culture is at the heart of progress. It can play a key role in and after this crisis." - H.E. Amb. Teresa Indjein, Director General for International Cultural Relations of the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, Austria

PD06: Supporting Vulnerable Groups in Times of COVID-19

"Going forward, I think that the good about this pandemic is it has given us an opportunity to appreciate our collective vulnerability but also the urgency of standing together in many situations and issues, in solidarity." - H.E. The Most Reverend Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, Nigeria

PD05: Religious Actors and Multilateral Reponses to the COVID-19 Crisis

Thank you to Dr. Nezar Bahabri, Director of the Internal Medicine Department at Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital (DSFH), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who participated in the G20 Interfaith Forum despite suffering from COVID-19, to talk about how faith communities can help health professionals combat this disease. KAICIID salutes all the health workers who risk their lives every day in the fight against this pandemic.

"I live with COVID as a patient and as a physician. I believe COVID-19 has affected our lives. As you know, in all the Arab countries and in Saudi Arabia we protect religion. And in Saudi Arabia, we have two important places of worship, which all the Muslims would like to visit. In this regard it affected their whole world in regard to the religion.”

“The religious leaders in the COVID-19 situation had the most important role because it was affecting the soul of religion - for example how to pray and do other things during the pandemic and they did an amazing job. Religious leaders gave us solutions to make our life easier and to continue to practice our religion, and also to do everything possible to make sure that people are calm, that they did not get depressed, they didn't get emotionally affected by all of this. It really helped the whole country of Saudia Arabia to pass through this difficult time and to go through it with ease.” - Dr. Nezar Bahabri, Director of the Internal Medicine Department at Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital (DSFH), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

PD04: Faith Communities in Partnerships to Address COVID-19

It's important for religious communities to humbly recognise that they may have a role to play but they should play it together and in a humble spirit, and and the same goes for states and governments. A course of action that emphasises 'my nation first, my government first, my community first or my religious community first' is really not the best option. Now we should stress the value of interdependent sovereignty and not just national sovereignty. Interdependent sovereignty means multilateralism and dialogue. - Prof. Jonatas Machado, Professor of International Public Law and European Union Law at University of Coimbra, Portugal

PD05: Religious Actors and Multilateral Reponses to the COVID-19 Crisis

“Religious and traditional actors are frequently well positioned to respond and communicate information and teachings to their communities in times of crisis. Through this added value, governments have been actively seeking to collaborate with religious communities to better address the pandemic in local communities.” - Dr. Mohammed Elsanousi, Executive Director of the Network for Traditional and Religious Peacemakers

PD06: Supporting Vulnerable Groups in Times of COVID-19

"We now see, in country after country, that the pandemic is almost being used as an excuse to deny one group their human rights so as to favour one group over another, or to do things that may enhance the lives and the livelihoods of a few people but undermine trust in government." - Ms. Ruth Messinger, Global Ambassador of the American Jewish World Service (AJWS)

PD05: Religious Actors and Multilateral Reponses to the COVID-19 Crisis

“Both political and religious leaders suffer from the same misconception, that they can do it alone and without any cooperation with the other, or even at the expense of the other. Our experience tells us that the vulnerable are best served if both political and religious leaders and institutions work side by side for the common good.” - Dr. Mohammad Sammak, Secretary-General of the National Committee for Christian-Muslim Dialogue in Lebanon and member of KAICIID Board of Directors

PD06: Supporting Vulnerable Groups in Times of COVID-19

"The impact of this crisis, COVID-19, was much harder on some groups than others. This requires governments, especially G20 leaders, religious leaders, religious actors, international organizations and democratic institutions everywhere to work on national and international human rights commitments. Today solidarity is not a choice or act of charity. It is a must. No one state or one leader can do it alone. This is the time of joint actions." - Dr. Tamader Al-Rammah, Member of the United Nations Committee of Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Former Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

PD05: Religious Actors and Multilateral Reponses to the COVID-19 Crisis

We've now concluded our main plenary session for the first day. Please join us for the panel sessions: PD04: Faith Communities in Partnerships to Address COVID-19; PD05: Religious Actors and Multilateral Reponses to the COVID-19 Crisis; PD06: Supporting Vulnerable Groups in Times of COVID-19. Click here to join.

"Interfaith response helps resource raising across faith communities so that we can consolidate the resources we are building up. It also makes it easier to collect data on the most vulnerable people in our communities, accelerates the gathering of volunteers and opens access to private sectors and local governments that only faith-based organizations can do through their followers. It can also really consolidate programs and services in health care." - Ms. Alissa Wahid, National Director of Gusdurian Network of Indonesia (GNI); KAICIID Fellow

"Religious communities are distinctive in being both the most local and the most global way that people organize their lives, their identities, their communities. It makes the religious community a unique ally in efforts that address COVID-19 and I know they will play a vital role if government and civil society recognise and embrace religious communities as a key ally. The G20 can help make that potential a reality." - Rabbi David Saperstein, President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism

"Religious leaders have the responsibility to promote messages about gender equality, challenge stigma and hate speech, dispell misinformation and rumours, champion attention to and inclusion of vulnerable populations including minorities, as well as members of other marginalised groups, advocating for their rights and access to diagnosis, treatment and vaccines."

“It’s been especially appalling to witness a surge in hate speech, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Christianophobia, racism, and despicable forms of discrimination. These evil forces sow fissures and holes in the fabric of our societies, triggering a vicious circle of violence. We firmly believe that the fragmentation of our societies is one of the most  serious upheavals of COVID-19. It has long term impacts.” - Ms. Nihal Saad, Chief of Cabinet and Spokesperson for the High Representative at United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC)

“By recognising religious freedom in a time of COVID-19, and by acknowledging the essential place of religion in people’s lives, governments and policy experts can win allies in a common struggle against, not only health risks, but other serious risks as well.”

“At least part of the crisis of legitimacy in the response to COVID-19 arises from the failure of some policymakers to account for the centrality of faith in the lives of believers. For billions of people around the world, religion is the center of our lives and the core of our identity.” - Elder David A. Bednar, Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

There are three actions to be taken [with COVID-19 response]: It is important to prevent outbreaks and prevent spread of disease. Detecting is important to suppress transmission and mitigate awareness. It’s also important to provide information in different languages and in different formats to help people accept them. - Dr. Mohammed Al-Abdulaali, Assistant Minister of Health and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

“Many faith actors have quickly adapted existing programs by pivoting to online methods, localising responses and working with strong established faith networks around the world. They built their experience on previous epidemics, such as Ebola and HIV, immediately demonstrating that they are critical partners.” - Ms. Kirsten Laursen Muth, CEO of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI)

“We need to point out the very important role of religious institutions and also the influence of religious leaders who have provided special support to raise awareness [about COVID-19] among the people and also raising awareness within government institutions.” - H.E. Dr. Hassan Nadhem, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities in Iraq

We have lots of options for you to join today's conference. In addition to the G20 Interfaith Forum page, you can also follow the livestream on KAICIID's YouTube channel

WE ARE LIVE! Check out the Road to Riyadh video to find out more about the goals of this year's G20 Interfaith Forum.

Welcome back to the G20 Interfaith Forum Live Coverage. We'll be starting in less than one hour. Once again you can watch the conference live by clicking here. For a summary of yesterday's plenaries and panels please click here.

Tuesday, 13 October

Thank you for joining us. This closes today's plenaries and panels. Please join us again tomorrow at 16:00 (GMT+3) 

"People who would have been totally marginal and not been heard at all have the capacity to be able to get to spew out against whoever it is, Muslims, Christians, Jews or any particular community in a way they were never able to do before. So part of the resurgence of hatred has been facilitated by the modern technological capacities that have been developed. And we have seen that particularly during COVID-19. - Chief Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs at the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Member of the KAICIID Board of Directors

PD01: Countering Hate Speech and the Use of Social Media as a Space for Dialogue

"The pandemic has sparked fear and uncertainty, which drives hate speech, misinformation and negative stereotyping. Public discourse is being weaponised for political gain, it has stigmatised and dehumanised women, ethnic and religious minorities, migrants and many others. This is the us versus them mentality of extremist organizations." - Ms. Nika Saeedi, UN Policy Specialist on Gender, Political Processes and Peacebuilding at UNDP

PD01: Countering Hate Speech and the Use of Social Media as a Space for Dialogue

“More than 200 years after the abolition of slave trade in the United Kingdom, there are still an estimated 40.3 million men, women and children entrapped in modern slavery around the world. It is estimated that that even in a country like the United Kingdom, that 136 thousand potential victims exist.”

“The Church of England’s approach to modern slavery is a phrase 'hidden in plain sight'. The Church of England is based throughout the country, in parishes that are in every location and it is believed that it is at the local level in the community that work can be done to arrest and tackle modern slavery.” - Rev. Richard Sudworth, Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and National Inter Religious Affairs Advisor and Member of the KAICIID Board of Directors

PD03: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

“I think the role of education is of enormous importance. An inclusive education, an education which promotes universal values, dialogue, [and] which also works towards the interreligious and intercultural dimension, that is incredibly important.” - Ms. Ana Jimenez, Political Advisor at United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC)

PD02: Religous Cultural Heritage, Human Dignity and Sustainable Development

“It has struck me that a good amount of hate speech targets policy for women especially. Sometimes speech criticises women who are outspoken or step out of what are considered to be acceptable gender norms...The gender dimension of hate speech is significant and it must be addressed in efforts to prevent or to respond to hate speech online and in the real word. I would argue for religious actors to recognise and address this gender dimension because religion has something to do with how gender and gender norms are understood." - Rev. Susan Hayward, Senior Advisor for Religion and Inclusive Societies at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP)

PD01: Countering Hate Speech and the Use of Social Media as a Space for Dialogue

"If we want to make a difference, we need to try to understand the beliefs of others. That does not mean that we have to change our own and convert to another religion. But we have to speak about other beliefs, and understand their perspectives, so that we can help reduce the spread of hate speech among people." - H.E. Grand Mufti Dr. Nedžad Grabus, Mufti of the Islamic Community in Slovenia

PD01: Countering Hate Speech and the Use of Social Media as a Space for Dialogue

"We should not conceive 'silos' of cultural heritage, and peacebuilding, and freedom of religion and belief. These three areas are obviously interlinked and they should really work in sync, because otherwise these 'silos' may even be detrimental to each other.” - Dr. Michael Wiener, Human Rights Officer at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

PD02: Religous Cultural Heritage, Human Dignity and Sustainable Development

“The International Conference on 21st century slavery stated that human trafficking constitutes a shocking offense against human dignity, and a grave violation of fundamental human rights, particularly the sexual exploitation of women and children. It must be recognised as an intrinsic violation of human dignity and human rights.” - Don. DDr. Michael H. Weninger, Member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at Vatican

PD03: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

“There’s an increasing appreciation of a broader notion of cultural heritage, one that is not simply a national agenda but so often has a First People or Indigenous dimension, and also involves minority communities within national communities. It’s been slow in coming.” - Prof. Paul Morris, UNESCO Chair in Interreligious Understanding and Relations at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

PD02: Religous Cultural Heritage, Human Dignity and Sustainable Development

"At the United Nations we believe that we cannot tackle hate speech on our own but we need the full commitment of many other societal actors. This is really a multi stakeholders effort. It is very important for the United Nations to partner with a variety of actors including the religious leaders and actors that play an essential role in the prevention of incitement to violence." - Ms. Simona Cruciani, Political Affairs Officer at the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect

PD01: Countering Hate Speech and the Use of Social Media as a Space for Dialogue

"It will take extreme determination and great leadership, placing people at the front of the queue, particularly those who are vulnerable. It can be people of faith who drive this agenda, carry the responsibility and call to account so that future generations no longer have to be exploited."

“This is a time when we should reflect on the tens of millions worldwide who  suffered for years, or even a lifetime. In these states of anxiety in the darkness of human trafficking and modern slavery. The reflection itself is not enough. We need to move to action, not merely words with strategies that remove risk, that replace impunity with responsibility and accountability to prevent these crimes in the first place." - Mr. Kevin Hyland, former first independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner of the United Kingdom

PD03: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

"By preserving cultural heritage - and we’re talking here about religious cultural heritage - we are directly affecting Goal 16 [of the United Nation's Sustainable Deveopment Goals] which is ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’, as we know the role of religion, and religious leaders, and religious sites is in promoting peace and reducing conflict, in addition to achieving economic growth, achieving sustainable environmental management, and also inclusivity.” - H.R.H. Amb. Princess Haifa al-Mogrin, Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Chair of the G20 Development Working Group

PD02: Religous Cultural Heritage, Human Dignity and Sustainable Development

We've now concluded our main plenary session for the first day. Please join us for the panel sessions: PD01:Countering Hate Speech and the Use of Social Media as a Space for Dialogue; PD02: Religous Cultural Heritage, Human Dignity and Sustainable Development; PD03: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery. To do so, please click here

"Today’s event provides an excellent platform to advance these efforts to repair and rebuild our world. You have joined together from many faiths to reaffirm our shared faith in humanity. You’re also shaping the better world we need – a world that is more inclusive, resilient and sustainable. The United Nations stands with you." 

"The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development charts a way for response and recovery that can overcome these challenges. It provides a framing for a health response and tackles the socio-economic impacts. But realising the 2030 Agenda and ensuring a global response to COVID-19 takes commitment and courage. It takes understanding that in order to solve big challenges, we need to come together. All of you represent that understanding and the values that are so deeply rooted in all faiths such as inclusion, social justice and leaving no one behind." - H.E. Dr. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group

“The pandemic has resulted in the loss of life for millions of people. Millions are dealing with the negative impact of the economic situation. We need to look into our national and religious relations and cultural and ethnic bonds until everyone is safe. - H.E. Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, SG of the Org. of Islamic Cooperation

“We’re working together with all faiths, Christians, Muslims, Jews and people of no faith to maintain human rights and freedom of religion in Europe, because without that there is no future for the European project.” - Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis and Member of the KAICIID-supported Muslim-Jewish Leadership Council

"This public health crisis has been accompanied by an economic collapse, a learning crisis for children like never before, and a deepening impact on gender inequality. Children have been disproportionately at the receiving end of violence. In the midst of this, we have heard the call for solidarity which emanates from a deep and ancient wisdom that our faith brings to us and the wisdom that our actions both individual and collective have direct consequences."

“It is not the 'road to Riyadh' but the 'roads from Riyadh' that will lead our conversations and help us see how to make the fruits of dialogue concrete.” - Dr. Kezevino Aram, President of Shanti Ashram and Member of the KAICIID Board of Directors

"This Forum is based on fundamental issues of concern to all humanity within the broad framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Each issue reflects the extent of the impact of every event and incident occurring in this world and of every action undertaken towards progress and development." - H.E. Sheikh Dr Shawki Ibrahim Allam, The Grand Mufti of Egypt and President of the General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide.

“Religious leaders bring a readiness to put ourselves out for others despite the personal cost because the purpose of life is to give glory to God as well as to be our best selves.” - H.E. Anthony Abbott, Former Prime Minister of Australia and Patron of Worldwide Support for Development (representing Dr. Haruhisa Handa)

"Interreligious dialogue has an essential function in building a civil society that includes everyone and rejects the ‘throwaway culture’ which leaves persons isolated and without resources." - His Eminence Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, Titular Bishop of the Diocese of Luperciana; President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Member of the KAICIID Board of Directors.

“We will use this opportunity to raise our voice against structural inequalities – discrimination, racism, ethnocentrism. Policymakers need to know that we call for zero tolerance of injustice and any other form of discriminatory practice.” - His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch

"Religion is a great power that can be a bridge for communication between people. I would love to see religious leaders in the world act as fire brigades, to put out fires and save people’s lives wherever they are. As such, they don’t ask ‘how did this fire breakout?’ but ‘how can we put it out and prevent it?’" -H.E. Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies

"We are facing challenges such as a climate crisis, economic gaps caused by globalisation, and violent conflicts. Our resources are clearly reaching their limits. We should think not only about developing our own community but also make a plan for developing other religious communities, other faiths and other people. This way of thinking represents a major shift in values." - Rev. Kosho Niwano, President-designate of Rissho Kosei-kai; Co-Moderator and Executive Committee Member of Religions for Peace and Member of the KAICIID Board of Directors

“Peace efforts must comprise tangible outcomes which effectively benefit humanity, they must enhance security, coexistence, cooperation and strengthen fraternal bonds.” - H.E. Dr. Mohamad Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League and President of the Organization of Muslim Scholars

We suffer from a pandemic of larger problems deserving larger solutions as specified by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We have vulnerable children spending their entire childhoods in refugee camps, we face an epidemic of trafficking, a startling number of children go to bed hungry every night. While the SDGs are framed in secular terms, many, if not most of them, cannot be achieved without involvement from religious institutions and religious actors." - Prof. W. Cole Durham Jr., President of the G20 Interfaith Forum Association

"The world has turned inward instead of turning outward. This global human crisis has magnified the deep social and economic injustices that have plagued our society for a long time. This is the time, my dear friends, to reset our actions and to put them on the right track. This is the time for a different approach driven by unity and solidarity but most of all compassion and humanity."

"We have witnessed how faith-based organizations and our leaders have embodied the principles of leaving no one behind. They fight for social justice and mobilising resources to support the hardest to reach. Faith actors have a track record of being on the front line when crisis hits home." - H.E. Miguel Ángel Moratinos, High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC)

"The COVID-19 pandemic has taken away our capacity for physical engagement, but through the magic of digital communications, we have managed to bring together well over one thousand dignitaries, speakers, religious leaders and experts, policymakers and participants. Their task? To debate and shape the outcomes of an unprecedented series of regional consultations on some of the most challenging issues facing mankind so that they may be presented to the approaching gathering of G20 world leaders hosted this year by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia." - H.E. Faisal bin Muaammar, Secretary General of the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID)

"Religion plays a key role in informing people about the importance of implementing measures to deal with situations like COVID-19 and catastrophes across the world.” - H.E. Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, Minister of Religious Affairs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

WE ARE LIVE! Due to the number of people who have registered you can also STREAM LIVE here. 

The 2020 G20 Interfaith Forum will begin momentarily! In less than an hour, more than 1300 policymakers, religious leaders, experts and participants will gather online to discuss the most important issues facing our global community.

The first plenary begins today at 4:00 PM Riyadh Time (GMT+3).