In the past two years, PaRD has grown to a multi-stakeholder partnership of outstanding diversity, with representatives of many religious traditions and participants from all over the world actively contributing to the meeting.
Thematic working sessions focused on the three PaRD work-streams, areas of joint engagement including joint advocacy events in 2018 and 2019 as well as experience and knowledge exchange. Members presented on established and new initiatives in working groups and plenary sessions, which allowed them to put their own issues to the forefront of the agenda. The interactive nature of these sessions made it easy for interested partners to join in and contribute their experience in various ways.
By now, PaRD has become a global platform to showcase work, learn from others and include actors from around the world in joint initiatives in the field of religion and sustainable development.
Moreover, members came together to discuss, finalize and approve PaRD’s governance structure including the joint vision for PaRD in the years to come. A task group commissioned by all members at the last meeting in Wilton Park, UK in November 2017 had invested substantive efforts to table a proposal for a governance structure in February of this year. All members had time to review and provide input to this proposal. At the General Assembly of Members, they had the chance to raise remaining questions, finalize all documents and approve this governance structure.
The main outcomes regarding PaRD’s governance structure and its joint vision are:
- PaRD membership categories no longer distinguish between PaRD members and PaRD partners. Instead, PaRD members are governmental entities, intergovernmental entities and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)/Faith-based Organisations (FBOs).
- PaRD is governed by a Steering Group (SG) of 10-12 members, including a maximum of 3 representatives from governmental entities, 3 representatives from multilateral entities and 6 representatives from CSOs/FBOs, as well as the Head of the PaRD secretariat ex officio. Its main purpose is to provide guidance and oversight for PaRD membership and its secretariat. The Steering Group elects 3 co-chairs for a period of 2 years to handle its day to day business.
- PaRD aims at greater and institutionalised communication and coordination between secular and non-secular actors, while fostering new synergies through cooperation and collaboration of its members. Areas of joint engagement are knowledge exchange, capacity building and joint advocacy.
- PaRD’s work-streams are lead and managed by at least two members (co-leads) of at least two different membership groups and develop their own annual work programme based on the vision/mission of PaRD and the commonly agreed main strategic plan of PaRD. Members may decide which work-stream to join and the membership of each work-stream should have representation of the three different membership groups.
Following this discussion and in accordance with its outcome, each constituency elected its representatives for the PaRD’s steering group, tasked with decisions on PaRD’s day-to-day work in PaRD’s three areas of cooperation knowledge exchange, capacity building and joint advocacy.
The elected SG members for the coming two years are:
- USAID (vacancy/co-chair), BMZ, MoFA Denmark for the governmental entities
- UNFPA (co-chair), KAICIID, AU for the intergovernmental entities
- ACT Alliance (co-chair), IRW, WCC, Arigatou International, CYNESA and the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) for the CSOs/FBOs
With this, the General Assembly of Members has addressed the most pressing formal and procedural questions of the young partnership. Subsequently, all participants welcomed the opportunity to concentrate on thematic questions. PaRD’s three work-streams went to work immediately focusing on joint advocacy. In addition, the work-streams – SDG 16 “Sustaining Peace”, SDG 5 “Gender Equality and Empowerment”, and SDG 3 “Health” – also mapped out their work for 2019.
The work-streams and individual member organizations will have the opportunity to present their work’s results soon enough: Concluding the General Assembly of Members, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark committed to host 2019’s annual meeting in Copenhagen in 2019.