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2019 PaRD General Assembly of Members from May 1st to 3rd in Copenhagen

Over 150 representatives of members and observers followed the local hosts’ invitation to Eigtveds Pakhus in the Danish capital.

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The current 105 PaRD members and observers were invited to participate in a diverse conference organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, the Danish Network on Religion and Development including Danmission and DanChurchAid, the PaRD Steering Group and the PaRD Secretariat.

On the first day, the work-streams’ co-leads as well as the Steering Group came together to review the last year and hold preliminary meetings to plan the following two days. The current work-streams are Health/SDG 3Gender Equality and Empowerment/SDG 5and Sustaining Peace/SDG 16. At this year’s GAM, members additionally founded the Environment, Water and Climate Action Working Group, which will take up its work over the course of the next weeks. Concluding day one, participants had the opportunity to listen to inspiring stories of religion and faith at the annual fireside chat. Moderated by Prof. Mohammed Abu-Nimer from KAICIID, Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian, Jr., United Religions Initiative, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, Jacob Soetendorp Institute, as well as Ani Zonneveld, Muslims for Progressive Values gave their insights on the chat’s topic One decade to go until 2030.

On May 2nd, the annual report by the Steering Group and by all work-streams to all members was followed by an interactive panel. Rev. Dr. Kenneth Mtata, General Secretary, Zimbabwe Council of Churches gave the Keynote Address on the topic of Shrinking Space for Civil Society and the Role of Religious Actors. A diverse interactive panel moderated by Birgitte Qvist-Sørensen, General Secretary of DanChurchAid and Moderator of the ACT Alliance commented on Rev. Mtata’s statement. The panelists were Michael Suhr, Ambassador and Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, H. E. Faisal Bin Abdulrahman Bin Muaammar, Secretary General of KAICIID, and Gladys Nairuba from DanChurchAid Uganda. These three panelists reflected the diversity of PaRD as a partnership of governmental entities, intergovernmental entities, and religious and civil society organisations.

On the third and final day, Dr. Marie Juul Petersen, Senior Researcher at The Danish Institute for Human Rights presented on her study titled EU Member State Engagement with FBOs. An ‘Added Value’?. Her input was followed up by a responding panel consisting of Prof. Katherine Marshall, Director of the World’s Faith Development Dialogue, Prof. Henning Melber, President of the European Association of Development Institutes, Dr. Fabio Petito, Senior Lecturer at the Department of International Relations of the University of Sussex, and Abozer Elmana Elligai, Presiding Officer of the African Union ECOSOCC. Rev. Dr. Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation moderated the panel discussion and included the variety of opinions present in the room in an open format.

On all conference days, the work-streams used their time in small working groups to review their work and plan activties for 2019 and 2020. Individual members had the opportunity to present their individual work in two Open Fora to the PaRD membership to make own innovative approaches known and initiate new cooperation formats. Last, but not least, the Danish development community followed the invitation by the local hosts to learn more on PaRD and connect with its members in a Gå hjem møde – a meeting taking place over coffee after work.

Concluding the GAM, Renier Koegelenberg of the National Religious Association for Social Development (NRASD) invited all participants to attend the 2020 GAM to be held in South Africa in September 2020 (exact date tbc).

The organizers would like to thank all participants, supporters, and colleagues who made this year’s GAM such a tremendous success. Please revisit this page in the following weeks to learn more about the conference’s different sessions and their content.