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http://www.bmz.de/20160217-1en

Berlin – At an international conference entitled “Partners for Change – Religions and the 2030 Agenda”, Minister Gerd Müller of BMZ presented on February 17, 2016 the first-ever strategy on the role of religion and faith communities in German development policy.

Minister Müller said, “Without the involvement of the world’s religions, we will not be able to meet the challenges the world is facing. Especially in these times when religion is used as an argument to justify terrorism and violence, we need to improve cooperation with all religious communities. We must not leave the field clear for the extremists. Rather, we need to strengthen those who are working for peace and development.”

The strategy Religious Communities as Partners for Development Cooperation is the outcome of a broad national and international dialogue which Minister Müller launched right after he assumed office. Together with civil society, religious communities and international organisations such as the United Nations and the World Bank, the BMZ drew up the strategy to serve as guidance in the future for systematically taking cooperation with religious communities into account in the BMZ’s project work.

“A values-based development policy takes the contribution of religion seriously. Wherever we can achieve more by working together, we will increase our cooperation with religious actors. We have laid down clear criteria in our strategy to guide us in this endeavour,” said Müller.

In order to give this effort a push at the international level, too, the BMZ founded the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD), a joint endeavour with other donors and international organisations, for example the US, the UK, Sweden, the United Nations and the World Bank. The purpose of this Partnership is to develop common ideas on how to improve cooperation with faith communities. The Partnership is also open to civil society organisations.

PaRD will be supported by an international secretariat with offices in Bonn and Berlin.

 

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2015 was a productive year for the JLIF&LC community!

The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities co-convened the Religion & Sustainable Development Conference in Washington, DC with 140 leading policymakers, development practitioners, and academics in attendance. At a follow-on meeting to be hosted February 2016 by the German government, a new bilateral coordinating mechanism to support faith engagement in the SDGs will be launched.

The Gender-Based Violence Learning Hub completed a Scoping Study and Policy Brief on “The Role of Faith Communities and Organizations in Prevention and Response to Sexual and Gender-based Violence”, which was presented at the R&SD Conference. Elisabet Le Roux and other Hub members hosted a session on the Scoping Paper at the SVRI in September 2015. Hub Co-Chairs, now including Veena O’Sullivan (Tearfund/We Will Speak Out), Diana Arango (World Bank Group), and Elizabeth Dartnall (SVRI), are working with members to develop Scope of Work for 2016.

At the R&SD Conference, the Resilience Learning Hub organized a session on evidence for faith engagement in humanitarian response, including a recently completed Report and Policy Brief on local faith communities and the humanitarian responses among refugees in Irbid, Jordan. Now, the Resilience Hub, under Co-Chairs Alastair Ager and Helen Stawski’s continued leadership, is supporting the collation of the evidence base for the World Humanitarian Summit Special Event on Religion.

Peace & Conflict, JLIF&LC’s newest Learning Hub, was launched with over 115 members! Co-Chairs Sarah Pickwick (World Vision), Lucy V. Salek (Islamic Relief Worldwide), and Alpaslan Ozerdem (Coventry University) are coordinating with Hub members to develop a Learning Hub Scoping Paper on the role of religion in faith-based peacebuilding and conflict prevention. They plan to launch the Scoping Paper at the World Humanitarian Summit in May.

More 2015 updates are here in our Annual Report.

Many thanks for your many contributions – scholarly, financial, and advisory – to JLIF&LC! Check out what’s coming next…

Looking ahead to 2016
At the Annual in-person Steering Committee Meeting last October, JLIF&LC’s future directions were discussed. Key outcomes and decisions included:

  • Decision to continue JLIF&LC for at least three additional years
  • Affirmation of JLIF&LC’s core mandate and scope: To serve as a platform for collaborative learning about religious and faith-based activity and contribution to the health and well-being of local communities, and communication of evidence and best practice to policymakers and practitioners to support their full engagement of faith groups
  • Continuation of JLIF&LC’s structure as a coordinating mechanism for existing organizations around evidence, rather than a free-standing organization
  • Agreement to revise governance and membership structures
  • Retirement of inactive Learning Hubs into “Thematic areas” and establishment of new Learning Hubs
  • For more information, please see the Summary of the Steering Committee’s Agreed Actions and Next Steps

Faith-based Series: The Review of Faith & International Affairs

Following on from the Religion & Sustainable Development Conference, a series of articles will be published in a special edition of the Review of Faith & International Affairs Journal in Fall 2016. Jill Olivier is serving on behalf of the JLIF&LC as managing editor, with more than 10 articles on religion’s role in achieving the SDGs currently being planned. We are grateful for funding from DFID to support this work.

Evidence Focus of the World Humanitarian Summit Special Event on Religion

The World Humanitarian Summit, an initiative of the UN Secretary General to be convened in Istanbul on May 23-24, will be hosting a Special Event on Religion as part of its program. The Resilience and the Peace & Conflict Learning Hubs will be actively engaged in collation of evidence for faith-based contributions to humanitarian action, in support of the WHS Special Event on Religion.

Evidence Working Group of Faith-based Action Framework

Jean Duff, Coordinator of JLIF&LC, has been asked to serve as Moderator of the Evidence Working Group of the Joint Faith-based Action Framework. The Framework encourages joint action of faith groups towards ending extreme poverty and realizing the SDGs. The Framework is grounded in three pillars for action: Collaboration, Advocacy, and Evidence. Working groups have been formed around the pillars in order to catalyze joint action and country-level implementation of the Action Framework.

Resource Spotlight

Please continue to share information relating Faith and Local Communities!

We encourage submission of new resources and events to the JLIF&LC Website.

Want to join or learn more about JLIF&LC?

Please contact:

  • Jean Duff, Coordinator, jeanduff (at)pfaithdev.org
  • Helena Manguerra, Web Administrator, helenamanguerra (at)pfaithdev.org

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The Faith-based Action Framework to End Extreme Poverty and Realize the SDGs was announced on September 24 at the “Meeting the Moral Imperative to End Extreme Poverty and Advance the SDGs” in New York City.

This joint output builds upon the momentum generated by several multi-sectoral initiatives to increase faith engagement in ending extreme poverty and realizing the SDGs, including the Moral Imperative Initiative, the Donor-UN-FBO (DUF) Collaboration, and the Religion & Sustainable Development conference.

The meeting is co-hosted by numerous faith-based and religious organizations and partners, including the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities, and is co-sponsored by the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion & Development and the World Bank Group.

Three Commitments: Evidence, Collaboration, and Advocacy
The Framework focuses on three core commitments for action:

  1. The commitment to generate and be guided by evidence
  2. The commitment to advocate by engaging the moral authority of religious leaders and their substantial constituencies
  3. The commitment to foster more effective collaboration between religious and other development actors, including governments, the World Bank Group, the United Nations, and the private sector.

The Framework is a working document that will be discussed and refined during a strategy session of FBO and religious leaders on the 24 September just prior to a High Level Event. In this session, religious leaders will share the Framework with UN, World Bank Group and government officials.

More details on the Framework are available online: https://jliflc.com/?p=33278

On July 7-9, 2015, 140 international development policy makers, academics, and leaders of religious and faith-based organizations assembled in Washington, DC for the conference Religion & Sustainable Development: Building Partnerships to End Extreme Poverty. Conference participants came together to discuss the latest evidence and to develop actionable recommendations for effective partnership between public sector and religious organizations.

Thematic sessions were held on Religion & Politics, Health Systems Strengthening, Ebola & HIV, Sexual & Gender-based Violence, Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief, and Large Scale Engagement of FBOs for Development.

Key findings emerging from the conference included:

  • The question no longer is why religion matters—the question is now how to systematically include the potentials of religious organizations for development, and according to what principles and criteria.
  • Religious literacy for development actors and development literacy for faith-based actors should be increased
  • Evidence for effective cross sector collaboration is available, and mechanisms and methodologies can be adapted to scale up partnership between public sector and religious and faith-based organizations

Post-conference resources, including the full Conference Proceedings, recommendations, and session and speaker videos, are now available online at www.jliflc.com/RSDconference.

Sharing the Proceedings

Please share the Proceedings, Recommendations, and videos through your networks and on social media using the hashtag #RSD2015. Please also join JLIF&LC on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to see R&SD Conference updates, resources, and opportunities.

Questions, Comments, or Collaboration Interests?
Please contact Jean Duff, Coordinator of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities, at [email protected].

Washington, D.C. – A highly significant conference brought together 130 attendees to discuss Religion and Sustainable Development this week.

The “Religion & Sustainable Development: Building Partnerships to End Extreme Poverty” conference was convened and co-hosted by the World Bank Group, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (implemented by GIZ), U.S. Agency for International Development, UK Department For International Development, GHR Foundation, World Vision and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities, a coalition of faith-based organisations and academic institutions.

Co-sponsors included the Catholic Medical Mission Board, Catholic Relief Services, Islamic Relief USA, Tearfund, American Jewish World Service, IMA World Health and McKinsey & Company.

From July 7-9, the conference attracted a unique combination of policy makers, multilateral and bilateral agencies, religious leaders, development professionals from faith-based organisations and academics.

The goals of the conference were to connect frontline policy makers to the evidence base and expertise to support more effective partnerships with religious and faith-based groups in the common cause of ending extreme poverty and promoting sustainable development.

The conference process focused on reviewing the evidence base and developing specific recommendations for action to strengthen effective partnerships between religious and faith-based groups and the public sector. It sought to obtain leadership commitments to follow-on activities and to establish specific next steps.

In his opening remarks, World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim cited the Catholic social teaching for “a preferential option for the poor.”  He said that every religion shared this fundamental commitment to the poorest and most vulnerable and that this provided a common platform with the international development community aim to end extreme poverty.

“We are the first generation in history that can say we can end extreme poverty in our lifetime,” Dr. Kim said. “We can’t get there without all of you,” he added, addressing the faith communities. “We need prophetic voices to inspire us and evidence to lead the way.”

The conference was set up to resource an open and vigorous discussion about the potential and challenges of faith partnerships with the public sector. It started with the launch of The Lancet medical journal’s series on “Faith-based Health Care.”

The issues of religion and sustainable development were debated from the perspectives of public sector leadership and religious and faith-based communities. Sessions also drilled down into the evidence base and key learning in relation to health systems strengthening, Ebola and HIV, sexual- and gender-based violence, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The issues of religion and politics were also debated along with approaches to scaling up faith partnerships for development outcomes.

The participants considered these topics through the lens of the conference’s overarching themes: how to frame and communicate the case; how to build on a common foundation; how to overcome complexity in the plurality of faith actors, potentially through the role of intermediary entities; and how to strengthen the evidence.

In his closing remarks, Martin Mauthe-Kaeter, the deputy head of policy division at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, said: “It felt like a highly collaborative, jointly owned event. … This has given us a chance to think differently about development – not just about financial and technical issues, but about values.”

Dr. Azza Karam, senior advisor on culture for the United Nations Population Fund, said: “The engagement with faith actors is now the ‘new normal.’ This meeting at the World Bank has given this legitimacy.”

Jean Duff, coordinator of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities, said: ”The conference delivered evidence that shows policy makers how faith-based groups contribute to achieving health and other development goals.”

Matthew Frost, CEO of Tearfund and Co-Chair of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities, said: “This conference has been a significant staging post in the collaborative process of learning and acting together to achieve more effective partnerships and greater impact in sustainable development.”

John Drew, from McKinsey & Company, said: “The conversation grew over the course of two days culminating in the distillation of a clear way forward around the four strategic themes identified in advance through research.”

Additional Resources Online:
The conference proceedings are available online at http://www.jliflc.com/RSDconference. You also can search hashtags #Faith2EndPoverty and #RSD2015 on Twitter to learn more.

The Lancet Series on Faith-based Health Care can be viewed here: http://www.thelancet.com/series/faith-based-health-care

Media contacts:
Jean Duff at [email protected]
David M. Theis at [email protected]