The first article of the issue titled ‘The Role of Religious Actors in Implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals’ was written by Dr. Azza Karam, Senior Advisor on Culture at the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) – a member organisation of PaRD – and coordinator of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Engaging Faith-Based Actors for Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Work (UNIATF). The article describes the evolution of cooperation between governmental and intergovernmental entities with faith-based organizations (FBOs). The article points out important milestones, provides the reader with the current status-quo and the most important results of the exchange between UN, Donors and FBOs. At the same time, it indicates potential pitfalls in need to be avoided. This comprehensive overview by Dr. Karam is a prominent choice for anyone interested in learning about the nexus of religion, development, and international affairs.
In her article, Dr Karam emphasises the growing need to "develop a coordinating modality that offers 'safe' convening spaces and catalytic synergies enhancing multi-religious collaboration for social development at regional and country level" (Dr Azza Karam, UNIATF). Since February 2016, this task is tackled by PaRD which brings together governmental and intergovernmental entities with FBOs and value-driven organizations.
The second article ‘The International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development/PaRD – A Global and Inclusive Partnership to Harness the Positive Impact of Religion in Development and Humanitarian Assistance’ written by Ulrich Nitschke, head of the PaRD-Secretariat, and Bennet Gabriel, advisor to the PaRD-Secretariat, takes up the issue and explains in-depth the thematic backdrop for launching PaRD in February 2016. It further outlines the structure of PaRD, possibilities of joining and contributing to the partnership, first accomplishments of the young partnership as well as its vision for the future.
Many religious organizations and non-religious actors have longstanding traditions of collaboration. PaRD’s goal is to harness the positive impact of religion in sustainable development and humanitarian assistance. To that end, the partnership aspires to facilitate dialogue between its members and partners and to institutionalise and further their cooperation working towards the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). PaRD not only fosters new cooperation, but also uses synergies with existing initiatives. Both members and partners contribute their specific expertise to the joint effort to move towards a more coherent an effective approach to religion and development.
Both articles were published in December 2016 by the World Council of Churches in The Ecumenical Review Volume 68, No. 4. They serve as valuable introductions to the topic of religion and sustainable development.