Date of Meeting: 12 July 2017

Meeting Organizer: Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations and the UN Interagency Task Force on Religion and Development (Chaired by UNFPA) in partnership with the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Development

ISJC Staff Present: Dr Laurelle Smith

Reporter: Dr Laurelle Smith

Which SDG does this topic cover? 17, with a particular focus on 1, 2, 3, 5 and 14

Type of meeting: High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Side Event

Brief summary of presentation of information made

Moderators: HE Ambassador David Donoghue, Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations, and Dr Azza Karam, UN Interagency Task Force on Religion and Development

“The slogan of the SDGs is to “Leave no one behind” but to do this we need to endeavour to reach those who are furthest behind, first.”

Marielle Ali, Director of Social and Humanitarian Affairs, UN Association

Spoke of her former work with the World Evangelical Alliance.

During the Millennium Development Goals the ‘Micah Network’ ( worked to motivate and equip a global community of Christians to embrace and practice integral mission - Love you neighbour as yourself.

Micah Global’ ( has now been launched for the SDGs to equip and motivate communities. The Micah Global Foundation mobilises teams of volunteers to serve local, national, and international communities through outreach service projects.

After the SDGs were launched, a consultation event was held to see what churches, Christian organisations and bible colleges can do to share best practices and work towards the SDGs.

‘Micah Global’ is currently working on 2 papers. Using a biblical perspective these papers aim to help pastors when they are preaching to their congregations. The first asks how we can make the SDGs applicable for the average person walking down the street. The second asks how can we make Christian organisations more sustainable and reflect SDGs in their practice. Are they recycling, heling the poor, encouraging girls to stay in school? Bringing it to the local level, making a plan and then collecting data on what they are doing. We want to show how to incorporate Agenda 2030 in everything they are doing. ‘Micah Global’ performs consultations with groups and churches and then allows the sharing of best practices.

‘Micah Challenge USA’ – currently working on ‘Creation Care’ ( The focus is on encouraging pastors and congregations to get involved in climate change. ‘Micah Challenge USA’ is involved in advocacy and advocacy training. Everything aims to educate people on the SDGs and get them involved in working towards them. “We as Faith based organisations are closest to the people, we are on the ground, and it’s our job to empower people to pick up the SDGs.”

How do we get people to live justly in their everyday life? You don’t have to be a missionary to work towards the SDGs, you can do things every day to live justly. We need to ensure we are training churches, and pastors and make the SDGs more accessible to them.

Jamil Ahmad, Deputy Director, UNEP New York Office

There is already great support form faith and religious leaders for Agenda 2030, but we have to work harder now than ever. FBOs have huge influence across the world. There is great potential for them to advocate and lobby governments. Faith communities can significantly contribute at regional, national and international level.

FBOs have already invested in the Agenda but technologies are constantly creating fresh opportunities. We need to be leading by example to get people on board with the SDGs.

Faith leaders have influence outside their religion to help people - in education, emergency response, the refugee crisis etc. We need to support religious leaders and all work together to achieve the SDGs.

Charles Badenoch, Vice President, Global Advocacy and Justice for Children at World Vision International

Last November, World Vision launched their promise of how they will achieve Agenda 2030.

1. Advocate for broader impact to create greater scale and more sustained impact than we could on our own.

2. Live out Christian faith with boldness and humility.

World Vision wants to play an active role in strengthening FBOs impact on the most vulnerable.

Dr Kim, president of the World Bank said in 2015 “we will not eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 if faith communities are not engaged”

Faith communities are essential in the fight against poverty.

‘Channels of Hope’ ( – a World Vision innovative - mobilises community faith leaders to respond to core issues affecting their communities—such as HIV and AIDS, maternal and child health, gender equity and gender-based violence, and child protection. The programme equips faith leaders with information and insight into scripture and traditions to be leaders of change, take practical action and promote child well-being where ever they are present.

In Kenya the programme has seen

  • Premarital guidance by faith leaders contribute to family planning in marriages of young people
  • Faith leaders encourage that every child should be celebrated leading to a rise in the number of births in clinics from 0.9% to 49%

Faith leaders are on the ground making a difference.

Day of prayer for famine was held on 21 May 2017 organised by the World Council of Churches, All Africa Conference of Churches and World Vision

  • 120 organisations, 1 billion people of faith joined.
  • 70 million tweets about it
  • At the recent G20, the American administration announced 120 million dollars to combat famine

If we are going to leave no one behind – we must reach the most vulnerable, often children. Often its only faith groups who can reach these people.

  • In Sierra Leone children with disabilities are hidden from site. Only faith groups could find them.

It takes a world” ( is a World Vision campaign to end violence towards children.

We must collaborate and activate faith communities everywhere to change attitudes and lead to a world that is fit for all.

Jean Duff, Coordinator, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities

Examples from the field

  1. International Care Ministries, Philippines
    The group ran an adult education-based poverty intervention called ‘Transform’, targeting the very poor in communities. A total of 150,000 people were reached by 11000 pastors. As a result of the intervention there was an average of 52.3% increase in income (per person, per day) and the number of people in debt decreased by 30%.
  2. Food for the Hungry, Bangladesh
    Child focused community transformation programme with implementation across health, disaster risk and food security.
    The programme saw 3200 people lifted out of poverty

Local faith communities don’t want to be utilised or used they want to be partners and join in with the work.

Joint Learning Initiative is committed to sharing and collating evidence to support UN agencies and evidence to support faith networks. 

Anwar Khan, Chief Executive Officer, Islamic Relief USA

A total of 80% of people report to have a faith world wide – we need all faiths to be heard.

It’s becoming more difficult to get Muslim staff members to the UN. So others end up speaking on behalf of people who are not allowed to be here.

Conflict Zones are often in Muslim areas – SDGs are for sustainable development, we are bringing people out of poverty but every day more are going in to poverty through wars and conflict zones.

We need to see FBOs as solution makers not problem makers.

Every project needs to line up with the SDGs. You just need to look at the MDGs to see that we can make a difference.

No one left behind is a cute slogan but it means nothing if we don’t live it out

People of faith need to work together. In Liberia, Muslims and Christens are working together to reduce gender based violence.

People of faith have access to where others don’t – not just geographically but in taboo areas.

What are the challenges between FBOs and the UN system?

One issue is UN bodies. Its fine having these conversations at the global level but what about at the national level? Faith leaders are often seen as part of a problem, rather than a solution. In a lot of places the governments don’t recognise the role of faith leaders. The UN could do a lot more to promote those roles and lead to better partnerships at national levels. Often its only faith based leaders who can access the people who are furthest behind.

There is a difference between faith leaders and faith based organisations. Religious literacy is important. Just because you read something in a tweet doesn’t mean you understand it.

Is it enough just for people to become more aware of the SDGs? What more should be done by FBOs and the UN?

It’s a key aspect. Knowledge is the first part, but how do we act on it. Many pastors are part time, so how do you feed it down to them and give them the support they need. How do you break it down in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them? How can we create a clear message to help them encourage people to achieve the SDGs? Need to make sure to incorporate technology and social media.

In 2015, over 100 faith leaders endorsed a framework for the SDGs. There has been enormous interest in tracking progress. It’s important that we educate people on the reality of change i.e., faith leaders against immunisation or holding traditional views about genital mutilation. When faith leaders are engaged, things change. We need evidence work.

The biggest thing against the SDGs is the amount of money that is spent on them, but no one is calling out the huge amount of money spent of defence expenditure worldwide. We don’t need nuclear weapons. The myth of redemptive violence, is a deeply engrained value that faith organisations need to come against. We want to achieve SDG 16 but how can we have peaceful societies when we are spending this amount of money on weapons and defence?

There are untapped areas of collaboration/resources – young people in faith are often overlooked. People assume that religious people are older but how can we tap in to the young faith community and their skills and wisdom?

‘As local as possible as global as necessary” – FBOs are local, change happens through local communities. We are agents of transformation in our communities.

We already have interfaith collaborations, how can we harness these platforms rather than creating new ones? Religions on their own don’t transform laws, constitutions, behaviours and attitudes we have to work together. We need a multi-faith set of actors working together and appealing to their governments.

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

The Salvation Army fully supports the Agenda 2030. Through its work in 128 countries the Salvation Army is able to spread the message of the SDGs to many people worldwide. It is therefore vital that the SDGs are made accessible to officers and soldiers and that all members of the Salvation Army worldwide are working towards achieving the goals and reaching those who are furthest behind. 

In many parts of the world The Salvation Army works closely with other FBOs however there is always more scope for collaboration. Partnerships between The Salvation Army and other FBOs, UN groups and states are important in order to maximise efficiency and to be able to share and learn lessons, leading to greater effectiveness. 

The International Social Justice Commissions’ role is to coordinate all Salvation Army partnerships including UN agencies related to advocacy, development and relief. This offers many opportunities to connect with other FBOs and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). The ISJC participates in the following partnerships:

  • The UN Refugee Agency
  • Partnership for Religion and Development (PaRD)
  • World Bank – Moral and Spiritual Imperative to end extreme poverty
  • Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities
  • UN Interagency Task Force on Religion and Development

A particularly important partnership The Salvation Army has is with the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities which brings together Faith Based and Religious Organisations who are engaged in faith and development with the purpose of learning together. The Salvation Army has been represented by Lt Colonel Dean Pallant on the ‘Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities’ since 2012 and was appointed to the Board of Directors in July 2016 and is deputy chair of the Evidence Working Group. An international forum will be held in Sri Lanka in October 2017 on ‘Localizing Response to Humanitarian Need: The Role of Religious and Faith-Based Organisation’.

Web links for more information

Tags: SDG1: No Poverty, SDG14: Life Below Water, SDG5: Gender Equality, SDG3: Good Health and Well-Being, SDG2: Zero Hunger