Keeping Faith in 2030: Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals

Network convenors 

New Website

First network event: FBO Workshop on Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals

On Monday 13th February 2017, Islamic Relief Academy and the University of Leeds held a workshop in Birmingham, UK. Around 25 participants came together to network and discuss research priorities on religions and the SDGs, representing a mixture of academic and non-governmental organisations, including Islamic Relief, and academic partners from India and Ethiopia.

Questions addressed in the workshop included:

    • Did your organisation have a role in the consultation process to define the SDGs? What were some of the strengths and challenges of the process?
    • To what extent do you feel that religious voices were enabled to be heard in the consultation process and with what effect?
    • To what extent and in what ways are you now beginning to interpret and implement the SDGs in your work?
    • Do you feel the SDGs provide a useful framework to tackle ‘sustainable development’ globally? What are the opportunities and limitations of the SDGs?

Participants discussed the opportunities and challenges presented by Agenda 2030 and discussed current research gaps in the area. As part of the network’s agenda, conferences will be held in these Ethiopia and India over the course of the next eighteen months, with opportunities for country specific consultations to take place. The Network also intends to publish an edited volume and launch a policy paper in the UK Houses of Parliament within the next year and a half.

Notes from Birmingham UK meeting

The next event organised by the network will be held on 24th February 2017 at the University Bath to discuss methodology, religion, and development. More details can be found below.

Methodological Challenges of Researching Religion


Announcing a new religion and sustainable development network – funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK – which involves academics and faith-based development actors. The network aims to enhance international exchange about the role of religions in defining, implementing, and safeguarding ‘sustainable development’, as codified in the UN ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs).
Religion is a major cultural, social, political, and economic factor in many ODA recipient countries, which is why understanding the local religious dynamics and the role of faith actors is crucial for sustainable development. While development practice and development studies had essentially subscribed to a modernist, secular paradigm of social change for much of the 20th century, this has begun to change. Greater portions of development aid are now channelled via so-called faith-based initiatives or organisations, and religion is increasingly recognised as a human resource rather than just an obstacle to development. Many religious groups have also been involved perceptibly in development policy, by adopting and heralding the Millennium Development Goals and through consultations in the drafting of the new SDGs.
To join their Religions and Development mailing list, sign up here:

JLI has an internship available on a rolling basis

– For more information please see below:

Paid Internship Opportunity

About JLI

The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) seeks full and appropriate engagement of faith-based groups in the achievement of the SDGs through effective partnerships with public sector and secular entities, as well as among religious groups themselves. In support of this goal JLI gathers and communicates evidence for faith groups’ capacities activities and contributions to international development and humanitarian policy makers and practitioners. JLI works globally through Learning Hubs, publications and conferences.

Possible internship projects 

We currently have a couple internship opportunities for an 8-12 week projects, working under the supervision of JLI’s Knowledge Manager


Learning Hub (LH) internship

  • Support one or two LHs (current LHs: Gender-Based Violence, Peace & Conflict, Refugees & Forced Migration or Mobilization of Local Faith Communities)
  • Create and populate social media Learning Hubs, including Twitter & Facebook
  • Initiate Hub Member Engagement Process; utilize surveys to help improve member experience, analyse results and report to co-chairs & KM
  • Assess the current resources available on the hub sites and ensure resources are formatted and tagged appropriately
  • Help KM plan and support the learning exchange calls
  • Assist Hub researchers as needed with scoping study
    • Conduct quick mapping of FBOs (especially with engagement with UNHCR)
  • Potential projects with Hubs as possible


JLI Knowledge Management, Faith & Partnership Internship

  1. Create featured Board (31) and Advisory Group (10) profiles
    1. Understand and engage key JLI board organizations through interviews and possible videos of organization personnel
    2. Lead board profile development includes profile page, posts, communications from board websites
  2. Create and populate social media posts related to board & advisory group organizations
  3. Assist KM in finding, and developing resources, assess the current resources available on the hub sites and ensure resources are formatted and tagged appropriately
  4. Create and post blogs & news related to religion and development
  5. Potential projects with Learning Hubs as possible


  • Coursework and experience in global health & development, religion and development or related fields
  • Research skills and interest
  • Strong writer, editor and communicator
  • WordPress experience preferred
  • Commitment of 15 hours per week for 8 weeks



  • There is a stipend of $800 per internship, payable in two parts at the end of each month on submission of time sheets.
  • Flexible hours, much of the work being virtual
  • Exposure to latest issues in religion and global development
  • Mentorship
  • Possible invitations to participate in external meetings, including at the World Bank, USAID, United States Institute of Peace, and United Nations


How to Apply

Please email your resume,short (2 page max) writing sample, and cover letter stating how your qualifications meet the requirements, please note which hubs you are most interested in to Stacy Nam, JLI Knowledge Manager at [email protected]. Internships at JLI are on a rolling basis, so please apply as soon as convenient.




The Evidence Working Group created an online Guide as a living library of resources that will be updated regularly. It aims to support the gathering and sharing of evidence by religious and faith-based organizations about their work to alleviate poverty and enhance the wellbeing of their local communities.

The purpose of the survey was to understand whether and how the Guide could be useful as a resource to potential local users.

More than 11 EWG members facilitated the surveys and there were 33 respondents. The summary document of the survey findings is available here.

Top five lessons learned from the Survey are:

  • Useful Guide: the majority of respondents found the guide and its contents and the presentation useful. For instance, 100 percent of the respondents said the page titled “Why should faith groups care about evidence?” answers why faith groups should care about evidence. Similarly, over 80 percent of the respondents said that the “how does faith shape our understanding of evidence?” page answers how faith shapes our understanding of evidence. Six said they would share this guide with colleagues and one said “with some changes.”
  • Diverse resource library: The resources on the page were helpful to the respondents. Respondents appreciated the variety of the examples on data collection, the diverse subjects covered, the different types of data collection and styles were the most helpful about the six resources shared in the library. The lesson learned here is that resources of similar nature should be updated and added.
  • Interesting resources: The CRS, URI and Tearfund’s reports were respectively of most interest to the respondents and their organisations. This suggests that the resources were relevant to most of the members and similar resources should be uploaded.
  • Data collection: The majority (75 percent) of the organisations surveyed currently collect information on specific faith-inspired metrics (for example hope, trust, love, relationships etc ).
  • Improvement: One major area of change would be to include more detailed information for faith groups that are interested in beginning or improving their evidence collection processes. Nearly 70 percent of the respondents said faith groups would need other information to start.

Next steps

  • EWG members will send any additional feedback on EWG Guide through Survey Monkey or to Stacy
  • Stacy will work with co-chairs to make changes to EWG Guide front page, add glossary and edits considering language accessibility and for increased user understanding
  • JLI will start, as capacity allows, to add new examples for the library
  • JLI will reach out to partners to work on examples based on the template
  • Next meeting in June. To get involved join the EWG here



DSA 2017 Conference
September 6-8 at the University of Bradford
The Religions and Development Study group will be hosting a panel: “The increasing space for ‘moral economies’ in light of global inequality: the role of religions and faith perspectives”
More panel details


  • Shabaana Kidy (Islamic Relief Academy)
  • Emma Tomalin (University Of Leeds)

Short Abstract

In the light of global inequality, there have been renewed criticisms against neoliberal economics, both from ‘secular’ and ‘faith-based’ NGOs and thinkers. This panel will seek to explore the role of religious traditions, values and faith-based tools in ‘moral economies’ and financing for development.

Long Abstract

Since the financial crash of 2008, neoliberal economic systems have been subject to renewed challenge and criticism by both ‘secular’ and ‘faith-based’ NGOs and thinkers. In the light of Agenda 2030 which details a trajectory for sustainable development across a multitude of sectors ranging from poverty and hunger, through education, gender equality and care for the environment, there has been increasing emphasis on well-being and holistic development. This creates increasing space for faith groups and religions to provide new perspectives and thinking around ‘moral economies’ in the light of global inequality. This may include, but is not limited to, faith-based social financing mechanisms, as well as opportunities to harness religious values to challenge neoliberal economic excesses. This panel will seek to explore the role of religious traditions, values and faith-based tools in moral economies and financing for development.

Full Panel & Paper Details

The GHR Foundation is partnering with OpenIDEO, an open innovation platform, to conduct the BridgeBuilder Challenge. The BridgeBuilder Challenge leverages the universal call from Pope Francis to ‘build bridges’ addressing the pressing and emergent concerns of our time in the areas of peace, prosperity and planet.

The top ideas selected from the challenge will receive a total of $1 million in funding (up to $500,00o for one organization), in addition to support provided by experts. All participants will benefit from the platform’s collaborative improvement process and opportunities for connection to new partners and potential funders.

For more information please see the OpenIDEO brief

Currently reviewing 100 great ideas

Updates from JLI’s Annual Board and Advisory Group Meeting

img_4533At the October 25/26 meeting, JLI’s overall goals were reaffirmed and we were encouraged to prioritize focus on localization, and mechanisms and methods for scalable engagement of local faith networks. Next steps will include updating the operating plan and developing a new communications plan.

Our Goals:

Goal 1: Gather knowledge about the activities, contributions and challenges of faith groups and synthesise into useful outputs through learning hubs

Goal 2: Connect policy makers, practitioners and academics with the knowledge, resources and expertise, with particular responsiveness to their wants and needs, to understand the activity and contribution of faith communities

Goal 3: Support broader global initiatives to catalyse the understanding of the contribution and activity of faith groups


Outcomes from the meeting will be posted to our website shortly.

Faith Works Africa, Abuja Nigeria October 18-20

Co-hosted by the African Council of Religious Leaders, GHR FoundationUSAIDReligions for Peace and The Global Women of Faith Network , under the auspices of Cardinal John Onaiyekan and the Sultan of Sokoto.


300 religious leaders and heads of FBOs gathered to explore activity and contributions to peace and prosperity. A resolution unanimously adopted by the assembly called for interreligious collaboration to end extreme poverty and to address the underlying causes of violent extremism.

JLI moderated a session on humanitarian response, with a short presentation including the 5 Evidence briefs  on religious and faith based response. Religious leaders from across the continent offered specific examples of religious and faith-based response to local humanitarian challenges.

See live stream recordings here

Summary Article 

There were several contiguous meetings:

 The first annual meeting of the Partnership for Religion and Development ( PaRD) gathered gathered some of its 5 bilateral, 10 multilateral members, and 5 guest members for discussion of progress and planning for the work ahead. PaRD elected its first fourteen  FBO partner organizations,  including the JLI, Alliance for Religions and Conservation, Arigatou International, GHR Foundation, and Global Ethics, Religions for Peace and the World Council of Churches.

The Sultan of Sokoto together with IIPC, led by Imam Magid and Imrana A. Umar and UNDP, hosted by top Uluma from seven West African countries for a two day working discussion on how to ramp up religious leadership to counter violent extremism. The Sultan chaired the intense discussions which resulted in the Declaration.

The Network of Religious and Traditional Leaders and IIPC briefed inter religious leaders on the Marrakesh Declaration. The Declaration was a revelation to most of the participants. Muslim and Christian speakers from the floor noted the reciprocal benefits of the Declaration with regard to protection for all religious minorities. The Declaration was warmly received, with calls from Christian leaders to develop an analogous document drawing on Holy Scripture for protection of the rights of minority religions. A USIP fellow announced that he had translated the document from the original Arabic into Hausa.

JLI is honored to be admitted as one of the first partners of the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD). PaRD is a network on religion and development to enhance cooperation in achieving the 2030 Agenda together.

PaRD elected its first fourteen  FBO partner organizations,  including the JLI, Alliance for Religions and Conservation, Arigatou International, GHR Foundation, and Foundation, Religions for PeaceBuddhist Global Relief, Danmission, Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, Muslim Hands, Muslims for Progressive Values, Side by Side: Faith Movement for Gender Justice, World Association for Christian Communication, and WCC Armenia Inter-church Charitable Round Table Foundation.

You can become a PaRD partner by submitting an online application at


JLI with the World Bank Faith Initiative co-organized  a panel on Religion and Sustainable Development Evidence for the Capacities, Activities and Contributions of Faith Groups towards achieving the SDGs.

The event including World Bank employees and representatives from faith-based organizations.The panel included:


WB CSO 10-16

See here for more details on the event


New York, September 22, 2016

The Moral Imperative convened to discuss next steps to end extreme poverty by 2030. Previously, the group met to sign the Faith-Based Action Framework, including partners from faith-based organizations and religious groups, World Bank and UN representatives. The three working groups (evidence, advocacy and collaboration) gave updates on work over the past year. The intention of the Working Groups is to foster collaboration among key faith-based leaders and organizations, World Bank and UN agencies to discern the best way to implement the Faith-based Action Framework to End Poverty and Advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

JLI Coordinator, Jean Duff, co-moderates the Evidence Working Group along with Dean Pallant from the Salvation Army. The Evidence Group is comprised of over 20 faith-based organizations and is currently piloting their collaborative Guide.

The morning ended with breakout groups and large group discussion on implications for next steps in meeting the SDGs. Additionally, the afternoon session focused on faith and refugees and forced migration.

For a more comprehensive summary go to World Council of Churches: