For the first time, government and intergovernmental entities came together with faith-based civil society organisations for three days in Abuja, Nigeria to take the next steps in solidifying the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD). Thirteen of the sixteen Members of PaRD – including AU ECOSOCC, BMZ, DFID, KAICIID, NORAD, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOGPRP, USAID, WFP, and the World Bank – gathered to identify common areas of interest and engagement. The annual meeting took place in conjunction with the high-level convention of Pan-African Religious Leaders titled “Faith Works Africa.” This conference was organised and sponsored by USAID, Religions for Peace, and the GHR Foundation, whose generous partnership helped make PaRD’s first annual meeting a success.
In the challenging global political landscape of today, closer collaboration between Faith and Development actors is of crucial importance.
By consensus, the attending Members officially approved 14 new Partners to join PaRD. Members and Partners of PaRD share a proven commitment to human rights standards, a dedication to equality for all. They share their institutional and experiential knowledge with PaRD and jointly work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. These fourteen new partners constituting PaRD’s first partners do exceptional work in the field of sustainable development around the world. They include:
- Alliance of Religions and Conservation
Buddhist Global Relief
Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue
Muslims for Progressive Values
Religions for Peace
Side by Side: Faith Movement for Gender Justice
The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities
World Association for Christian Communication
WCC Armenia Inter-church Charitable Round Table Foundation
In Abuja, members and partners agreed to work closely together in areas of common interest such as Peace, Security and Religion, Gender Equality and Empowerment, and Health and Sexual and Reproductive Rights, as well as the cross-cutting issue of supporting universal human rights and human dignity. These collaborative opportunities will be pursued through capacity building, policy advice and advocacy, as well as enhanced knowledge management. It was established that within PaRD, specific working groups between members and partners will be formed to jointly work on these issues. These cooperative efforts will provide an opportunity to exemplify PaRD ideals in practice, where mutual support of members and partners is driven by a pragmatic vision of cooperation generating the greatest impact.
Beyond right and wrong, there is a field. I will meet you there.
On the second day of the first annual meeting, Members and Partners of PaRD engaged in a roundtable discussion on ’The Nexus of Religion and Fragility – Countering Violent Extremism.’ Professor Amr Abdalla, Senior Advisor on Policy and Research at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) Addis Ababa, began his keynote speech by quoting the famous mystic Rumi: “Beyond right and wrong, there is a field. I will meet you there.” He applied this quote to the academic debate on violent extremism and de-radicalization, which often narrows down analyses by using push factors (poverty, illiteracy, political and socioeconomic deprivation) as well as pull factors (usually financial rewards, security or prestige) as explanations. While these factors are indeed useful in explaining violent extremism, they leave the nature and form of radicalization in the name of religion unanswered. Understanding ideas and ideologies as well as the cultural, historical, and religious contexts and how they shape individual responses – the “field beyond push and pull factors” – is crucial to explain violent extremism in the name of religion.
Following Professor Abdalla’s presentation, a diverse panel offered their experiences to the topic at hand. The panel featured Dr. Azza Karam (UNFPA) and Matthias Eder (KAICIID), as well as Imrana Alhaji Buba (Youth Coalition Against Terrorism-YOCAT) and Nicholas Songora Odoll (Manyatta Youth Entertainment Cbo-MAYE). Andreas Hipple of the GHR Foundation then moderated a group discussion amongst Prof. Abdalla, the panelists, PaRD members and partners, and religious leaders and civil society organisations present for the discussion. One point of agreement was in the necessity to explore this “field beyond,” which the majority saw as constituting an often overlooked, yet crucial part of the debate on violent extremism. They renewed their commitment to cooperate in concrete projects fighting the all too common misuse of religion as a means of segregation and legitimization of violent extremism.
On the last day of the annual meeting, members and partners were invited to attend a meeting jointly hosted by UN OGPRtoP and UN IATF to discuss upcoming areas of cooperation in March 2017 in New York City. Concluding the annual meeting in Abuja, all members and partners were invited to the UK for the 2nd annual meeting hosted by DFID/UKAID tentatively scheduled for October/ November 2017.
Please find the list of our current partners here.
Would you like to become a partner? Please find more information here.