Representatives from 11 Members and 25 Partners followed the invitation to New York, to discuss the achievements of the young partnership as well as future goals and modes of cooperation. Sessions of the meeting were focussed on three main topics: (1) The different expectations; (2) necessary governance structures to ensure efficiency; and (3) modes of cooperation and communication between members and partners in order to harness the positive impact of religion and values in sustainable development and humanitarian assistance and through this contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda. In addition, the World Map was launched at the Midterm Meeting and now serves as PaRD’s central knowledge hub (please click here to visit the World Map).
One year after the launch of PaRD, the partnership is still growing and now consists of 16 members and 46 partners.
Global Affairs Canada (GAC) recently joined as a new member (for an overview of PaRD members please click here), while nine additional partners were welcomed during the Midterm Meeting (for an overview of PaRD partners please click here). Regular face-to-face meetings and joint working sessions such as the Mid-Term meeting allow members and partners of PaRD to consult with each other and establish new ways of cooperation as well as building and strengthening existing collaboration. Through this, PaRD has established itself as a living and growing global partnership, while enabling and supporting dialogue, knowledge exchange and fostering cooperation among and between religious and secular actors across the world.
The meeting provided the opportunity to discuss expectations of the partnership. Participants agreed that PaRD functions as an efficient convening body. For members and partners the added value of PaRD lies in the areas of knowledge sharing, building awareness, joint evidence-based advocacy, providing safe spaces to foster dialogue as well as establish and leverage cooperation, identifying gaps and opportunities as well as increasing legitimacy of all actors involved.
The mid-term meeting dedicated time for the presentation of first results of the three PaRD work streams:
- SDG #3 “Health”: Members of this work stream presented the results of a consultation on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) hosted by Norad in Oslo in December 2016. The working group’s report highlighted ways forward in 2017 to garner support from religious leaders in order to raise awareness for SRHR in religious communities.
- SDG #5 “Gender Equality and Empowerment”: Members and partners of this work stream successfully launched a platform on “Gender Equality and Religion for the Gender Responsive Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” during the UN CSW 61 in NY on 15th March, 2017. Please find more information on this platform here. LINK TO ARTICLE
- SDG #16 “Sustaining Peace”: PaRD Member BMZ reported on the Intercontinental Youth Forum held in February 2017 as a pilot project of the Interfaith Dialogue On Violent Extremism (iDove). Several PaRD members and partners agreed to use this project as a possibility to jointly work on this issue and to overcome fragmentation through intensified exchange and cooperation. Please click here to watch a short film on the Intercontinental Youth Forum.
The United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect (OGPRP – a PaRD member), the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations and the Quaker United Nations Office jointly organised a panel discussion titled “The Role of Religious Leaders and Actors in Sustaining Peace” led by Adama Dieng, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide. The panel was held on March 20th, 2017 and reflected on the 2030 Agenda’s mandate to create peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Panellists discussed the potential of religious actors as crucial partners within a new framework of collaboration between civil society, government, and the private sector called for in Sustainable Development Goal 17.
One key role religious actors can play is to address and work against the incitement to violence, particularly in cases where political actors exploit social, cultural or religious differences for their own purposes.
While States have the primary responsibility to protect their populations from violence, those who have substantial influence in their communities – including religious and community leaders – have a significant role to play in this regard. They can work with political leaders to counter the use of divisive language and to engage with potentially vulnerable individuals and communities. This can enable communities to weather periods of stress and resist violent ideologies and provides the opportunity for inter-communal and interfaith dialogue as a means of promoting tolerance, understanding and reconciliation.
One of the key triggers to violence is the spread of “hate speech” in public discourse and the media that encourages or incites people to commit violence against specific communities, often based on their religious or ethnic identity. “Hate speech” surfaces both in conflict and peace situations and currently can be found in a plethora of contexts across the world. Over the last two years, the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect has worked with religious leaders from around the world to develop the Fez-Plan of Action (for further information on the Fez Process and the Fez Plan of Action please click here), which sets out a range of actions religious actors can take to prevent and counter incitement to violence and radicalization.
Overall, the Midterm Meeting provided room to exchange ideas and discuss the way forward for PaRD. Members and partners reinforced their commitment to continue and strengthen their cooperation in the partnership. To that end, members and partners agreed to come together in November 2017 for the second PaRD Annual Meeting to be held in the United Kingdom hosted by DFID.