PaRD Leadership Meeting: Being Heard and Understood

To put the words of PaRD’s Strategic Plan 2022-2026 into action and to strengthen existing and forge new relationships, PaRD’s leadership met in Washington, DC and New York in May 2022.

Participants of the PaRD Leadership Meeting in Washington, DC ©PaRD
Participants of the PaRD Leadership Meeting in Washington, DC ©PaRD
Participants of the PaRD Leadership Meeting in Washington, DC ©PaRD

PaRD Leadership Meeting: Being Heard and Understood

The to-do list was long on May 19  when the leadership of the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) met in Washington, DC and the next day in New York to discuss the way forward for PaRD in 2022. The agenda included:

  • putting PaRD’s Strategic Plan 2022-2026 into action,
  • strengthening partnerships with governmental members and UN entities,
  • discussing how to raise religious literacy, and
  • setting a date for the General Assembly of Members and Annual Forum 2022.

PaRD members from several governments and multilateral entities such as the African Union (AU), German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Global Affairs Canada (GAC), US Agency for International Development (USAID) as well as civil society actors including Arigatou International, Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA), Global One, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, Tearfund, UNITED SIKHS, World Council of Churches (WCC), World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), World Vision International and from academia such as Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin – Research Programme on Religious Communities and Sustainable Development joined the meeting. The lively discussions, proposals and decisions led participants to say they could feel that PaRD is a  safe space for dialogue at an equal level.

Creating a safe space where representatives from governments, multilateral entities, civil society, especially religious actors, and academia can meet, raise their voices and where they are heard, understood, and taken seriously is exactly what PaRD’s mission is.

Planning PaRD’s Way Forward

Key results included the Steering Group’s approval of the drafted operational planning coordinated by the Secretariat, with measurable indicators of success. A final updated version will be presented soon, with additional gender equality and empowerment indicators.

Strengthened Partnership with Governmental Members

The meeting in the USA was a good opportunity to strengthen the relationship between PaRD and USAID. PaRD Co-Chair Adam Philips, the Executive Director of Local, Faith & Transformative Partnerships at USAID in the Biden-Harris Administration, reiterated the huge potential of PaRD. Don Steinberg, advisor to USAID Director Samantha Power,  emphasised the critical overlap of interests between USAID and PaRD, including the approach to localisation, which aims to strengthen cooperation at eye level, especially with locally and globally well-established organisations and initiatives. According to Steinberg, PaRD does exactly this: the role and contributions of religious and indigenous actors, who are globally networked and make local and inter-regional contributions to the SDGs, are made transparent, and synergies are created.

Religious Literacy

PaRD enables different organisations to sit around one table. But for this to bear fruit, a common language must be spoken. During the meeting, PaRD leadership expressed a strong interest in using the unique networks and resources of PaRD to disseminate existing knowledge on religions and their contributions to the SDGs. There was interest in forming a task group to further analyse the current training landscape and develop a religious literacy training if significant gaps exist.

Annual Forum and General Assembly of Members 2022

The PaRD leadership decided to hold the 2022 General Assembly of Members (GAM) and Annual Forum in Indonesia from October 31 to November 3. It will be the place where PaRD members will be able to connect, reflect, develop new ideas and initiatives and synergise with the G20 events in Indonesia.

If you have ideas for presentations or side events during the Annual Forum 2022, please contact us via info@pard.international

Stronger Relationship and Possible Synergies with UN

The meetings in Washington allowed for a longer exchange with UN entities for the first time since the Corona pandemic. The discussions with representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN-Habitat and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank revealed common interests and goals, for instance, on climate change.

In New York, bi-lateral talks were held with Kavita Desai, UN Quaker Representative, Arelys Bellorini, Senior United Nations Representative at World Vision, and Alison Kelly, UN Representative at ACT Alliance.

First concrete results were achieved after a very collegial exchange with Dr Charles McNeill, Senior Advisor on Forests & Climate UNEP (Interfaith Rainforest Initiative – IRI) and Dr Ryan Smith from WCC. Following this conversation, the PaRD Secretariat shared with its over 140 members worldwide the extensive collection of materials from IRI in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Bahasa Indonesian on environmental protection and toolkits for religious communities, including Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews and Muslims. PaRD members highly appreciated the material and will pass it on to their global networks. A selection, including a focus on different religious communities, can be found here:

Resource Guide

  • A Resource Guide on Rainforest Protection for Religious Communities outlines how rainforests and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities are essential to efforts to halt biodiversity loss and achieve global climate and sustainable development goals. The guide also provides perspectives from 10 different religious leaders on the spiritual basis of their faiths for protecting forests, as well as guidance on how religious communities around the world can get involved on this critical issue.
    (English | French | Spanish | Portuguese | Bahasa)

Faith Toolkits on Forest Protection for Religious Leaders and Faith Communities