PaRD appoints Khushwant Singh as the new Head of Secretariat

The International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) has a new Head of Secretariat. With a wealth of experience and expertise in international cooperation and interreligious and multifaith dialogue, Khushwant Singh has been appointed the new Head of Secretariat of PaRD. He takes up the post with clear priorities: to increase diversity among members, expand the participation of governments, especially from the Global South, achieve more tangible results and in so doing contribute to implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations.

For Khushwant Singh, it is very much an opportunity to return to his roots. “Religion and spirituality have always played a profound part in my life. So it is with gratitude and a sense of honour that I take on the responsibilities at the Secretariat – just as PaRD celebrates its fifth anniversary. The opportunity to collaborate with so many committed people and initiatives worldwide is a truly wonderful prospect. If it was not evident before, the need for cooperation certainly is today. For if the COVID pandemic has taught us one thing daily, it is that we are all vulnerable. And if we are to find solutions to global challenges such as climate change, pandemics and wars, international collaboration and trust is needed more now than ever before. Healing and unity are at the heart of spirituality – and to transcend man-made ideologies and boundaries. The positive force of religion is therefore essential if we are to work together on sustainable solutions for our wellbeing – and that of the planet. I will do my best to deepen trust and humbly serve the affiliates and those who will be part of this amazing partnership with over 130 members. My key priorities are to diversify the membership of religious actors involved, expand the participation of governments, especially in the global south, and young people and strengthen trust and efficient management processes in PaRD to help bring about more concrete results for the 2030 Agenda.” 

Healing and unity are at the heart of spirituality – and to transcend man-made ideologies and boundaries. The positive force of religion is therefore essential if we are to work together on sustainable solutions for our wellbeing – and that of the planet. 

Khushwant Singh was born in India and has lived in Germany since childhood. He studied ethnology, education, and social anthropology with a focus on migration, intercultural communication, young people and religion. Singh completed his MA at Heidelberg University and his MRes at Goldsmiths College, University of London, gaining distinction in both. After his studies, he taught at Heidelberg University, and was employed as a social worker and took care of migrants and unaccompanied refugee minors. Since 2006, he has been working in the field of international development cooperation having begun his career with GIZ (then GTZ) as a programme coordinator at the Center for International Migration and Development (CIM). In 2012 he was seconded to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and joined the coordination team of the German Government’s welcome initiative for international skilled workers, ‘Make it in Germany’.

From 2015 until 2017, Singh served as an advisor in the sector programme values, religion and development on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). He conceptualised and implemented the dialogue series ‘Religion Matters!’ with religious representatives, and the multilingual BMZ/PaRD publication “Voices from Religions on Sustainable Development” – involving 25 religious and indigenous representatives from ten traditions. Together with his team members he was also instrumental in the creation of PaRD in 2016. From 2017 to 2021, he directed the Indian components of the Global Project Quality Infrastructure (GPQI) and the Digital Dialogues of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) in India.

Khushwant Singh is engaged on a voluntary basis in the field of religion, peace, dialogue and youth work. He is the founder of the Council of the Sikh-Religion, and a founding member of the renowned Interreligious Council of Religions Frankfurt (Rat der Religionen) and had the honour to serve as its president from 2014 to 2017. The council fosters dialogue between religions, political representatives and society.

Furthermore, Singh publishes articles in German and English with a focus on Sikhi/Gurmat, spirituality, ethics, sustainability, behavioural change and the global challenges facing humanity. One of his recent publications is entitled Gurmat – The Art of Spiritual Wisdom: How Peace from Mind through Knowledge of the Soul can Help Overcoming the Challenges of Humankind (Gingko Press).

With 15 years of experience in international development cooperation and long-standing expertise in fostering results-oriented dialogue between actors from religion, society and policymaking, Khushwant Singh brings to PaRD an invaluable set of skills, experiences, networks and values. Both the Secretariat and PaRD members have expressed excitement at Khushwant Singh’s appointment and the new chapter this represents for PaRD.

Four out of five people feel connected to a spiritual/religious tradition worldwide. Organisations and initiatives inspired by religion, spirituality or indigenous traditions have a significant and unique contribution to sustainable development. PaRD was founded on the realisation that multi-stakeholder partnerships are essential if we are to achieve the climate targets and the UN Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. The PaRD Secretariat supports its members in implementing the goals of PaRD. The Secretariat's offices are located at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) – the government owned German Agency for International Cooperation.

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