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, achieve tangible results and in so doing contribute to implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations.

Khushwant Singh, Head of PaRD Secretariat. © GIZ/PaRD by Maurice Weiss

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 on a daily basis, it is that we are all vulnerable. And if we are to find solutions to global challenges such as climate change and pandemics, international collaboration and trust is needed more now than ever before. Healing and unity is at the heart of spirituality – and to transcend man-made boundaries. The positive force of religion is therefore essential if we are to work in common 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 and young people and strengthen efficient management processes in PaRD to help bring about concrete results for the 2030 Agenda.”

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. 

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, youth and religion. Singh completed his MA at Heidelberg University and his MRes at Goldsmiths College in London, gaining distinction in both. After his studies, he 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 on 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. 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. For several years he was active in educational and community work with young Sikhs. He is 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.

Singh publishes articles in German and English with a focus on Sikhism/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, pp. 218-233).

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.

Given that eight out of ten people feel connected to a religion worldwide, organisations and initiatives inspired by religion, spirituality or indigenous traditions have a significant and unique contribution to make in achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda. 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 and its working programme. The Secretariat's offices are located at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) - the government owned German Agency for International Cooperation. As the new PaRD Head of Secretariat, Khushwant Singh is committed to support PaRD members in jointly working towards this common goal.

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