At UN symposium, organizers say contributions of religious groups go beyond mobilizing resources.
Faith groups bring more to the table than just dollars and cents when it comes to setting policy around humanitarian funding, according to organizers of a symposium at the United Nations aimed at amplifying the voice of religious groups at the international level.
The Fifth Annual Symposium on the Role of Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs, held January 29, 2019, at the United Nations Secretariat in New York City, New York, United States, was co-organized by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and focused this year on practical and ethical issues surrounding development funding.
More than 300 people attended, representing both the UN community and a diverse range of organizations, including Protestant, Catholic, Islamic, and Jewish groups.
“Faith-based organizations are so important because you’re one of the principal platforms for the organization of the citizen and you provide the moral compass for our societies,” said Lazarous Kapambwe, Permanent Representative of Zambia to the UN, one of the panelists in the morning session.
Speakers throughout the day echoed this key theme, emphasizing the important role religion and faith-based organizations can play as the UN pursues its far-reaching development agenda, known as the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 goals, set by the UN in 2015 as its guiding objectives for the next 15 years, encompass a range of humanitarian challenges, ranging from eradicating poverty and hunger to overcoming the scourge of illiteracy.
The Sustainable Development Goals are aimed at producing a “flourishing of human life,” said Ganoune Diop, director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Adventist Church, and one of the founding organizers of the symposium series.
The Biblical Ideal
In his presentation during the first session of the day, Diop laid out a rationale for why religious organizations can and should be involved in the issue of sustainable development funding. “There is a clear and powerful theme woven throughout the Christian Scriptures, and through many other religious texts, focused on justice and the protection of human life and dignity,” he said.