Date of Meeting: 29th January 2019 

Meeting Organizer: 

ACT Alliance

The General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church

General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists

Islamic Relief USA

United Religions Initiative

World Council of Churches

ISJC Staff Present: Major Victoria Edmonds, Dr Laurelle Smith 

Reporter: Dr Laurelle Smith 

Which SDG does this topic cover? 8, 9, 17

Type of meeting:

Brief summary of presentation of information made

Opening Remarks

Mr. Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, General Secretary, ACT Alliance; Mr. Elliot Harris, UN Economist and Assistant Secretary- General for Economic; H.E Ambassado Lazarous Kapambwe, Permanent Representative of the republic of Zambia to the United Nations, Co-chair of the financing for Development Forum; Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church; Mr. Peter Prove, Director, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs

  • The faith voice needs to be heard at the big economic events. We need to speak.
  • We want to see a world where an investment is only considered positive if it achieves a sustainable development outcome
  • There is one force that has the capacity to make change – the citizens. FBOs represent one of the largest platforms for the citizens. They are a critical platform and a moral compass for societies.
  • FBOs are critical for mobilisation and participation of citizens. They provide a vehicle for networks of knowledge sharing, for accountability and monitoring mechanisms, and deter unethical conduct of governments and the private sector (especially financing).
  • Psalm 36: 5-6

         Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
         your faithfulness to the skies.
         Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
         your justice like the great deep.
         You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.

  • When we collaborate, we offer our best thinking, and can determine our best engagement. It is how we contribute. Partnerships are needed to ensure no one is left behind in building a robust economy for all. It is critical for FBOs to engage in economic development if we want to see justice.
  • Financing for sustainable development is both a means and an end. It ensures the success of or future generations.

Panel One: Economy of Life: Faith-based Perspectives on Economic Justice as a Moral Imperative

Panel One presented a faith-based framing of financing for sustainable development, including the moral foundations for an Economy of Life that incorporates peace, justice and sustainability.

Dr. Ganoune Diop, Director of Public Affairs, General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and Secretary General, International Religious Liberty Association

  • Comprehensive holistic justice must be kept as a priority not only in our philosophy but our practice.
  • We need to advocate for gender justice, social justice, organisational justice, racial justice.
  • To establish justice, we need to first heal the wounds of society.
  • Economy of Life is the management of life, it is putting the value of a human life first, it is sustaining dignified life, it prioritises human life over profits.
  • There is an urgent need to embrace the Economy of Life itself – life is the ultimate point of reference, it is the highest good.
  • We need to embrace the moral roots of the Economy of Life by fully embracing the idea of a holistic justice to manage resources for a better life for all.

Dr. Ulrich Duchrow, Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany

  • We need to have a culture of reinvestment
  • We need an interreligious and intercultural pool of wisdom
  • We need to engage in the evaluation of the way FBOs are currently working
  • This, right now, is a Kairos moment for churches to stand up, resist current ways of investing and advocate for a new culture of the Economy of Life

Dr. Manuel Montes, Senior Advisor, Finance and Development & Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, South Centre

  • We find it hard to differentiate between poverty and injustice.
  • Life was given generously to us. We should treat it with respect.
  • The problem isn’t the risks associated with investing, it is a matter of justice.
  • The finance sector must serve the Economy of Life.  
  • The finance sector has denied a decent standard of living for many of the world
  • There needs to be regulation of ethical principles  
  • We need to prioritise socially responsible investments and avoid harmful ones

Sister Winfred Doherty, Main NGO Representative to the United Nations, Congregation Of Our Lady Of Charity

  • Jesus said, “I have come that people may have life, and have it to the full”. This challenges our view of finances, wealth.
  • We must work together to make sure everyone has access to a healthy Economy of Life. We are at a distance from achieving this.
  • We need reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, and between women and men. Fairer taxation of the wealthiest can help pay for it. (Public Good or Private Wealth – Oxfam
  • We need to work to alleviate suffering and challenge financial institutions and the corporate sector
  • There is growing inequality in our world. Inequality offends the dignity of human beings.
  • The refusal to share resources is a cause and effect of spiritual ills
  • There is urgent need for politicians and economists to enter in to a frank discussion on the Economy of Life
  • Everyone who prioritises profit over people must be challenged
  • Economy of Life is a Human Rights issue – it’s a matter of life and death for those who battle for basic necessities. We need tax justice, green energy, gender equality and to end the burden of debt

Mr. Anwar Khan, President, Islamic Relief USA

  • In some situations in life we need to go into debt, but we also need to be able to pay it off.
  • When one is in debt, there is a lack of dignity. People are committing suicide because they can’t pay off their debt.
  • Crippling national debt of countries essentially cancels out any aid they receive.
  • We need to work with local faith-based actors to train people in the SDGs. We need to teach people how to fund SDG projects sustainably.
  • We need to train the UN in religious literacy.

Dr. Azza Karam, Coordinator, United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on

Religion and Development

  • The call for alternatives is not the same as suggesting alternatives. FBOs can’t just call for alternative investment strategies, they need to suggest alternatives. What is the financial alternative for the world?
  • It is helpful to not just criticize but also to look at the alternatives.
  • We don’t know how much of an annual budget of an FBO goes to co-sponsoring or co resourcing interfaith initiatives. If we did, that would be an indication of the faith inspired motivation that is working. We need to ask ‘to what extent is this religious affiliation, a faith affiliation, for all faiths?
  • We need to know how religious finances are different from other finances
  • 80% of people are affiliated with a faith. But there is not 80% good in the world. Just because we are faith-based doesn’t mean we are all doing good.
  • The actual economy isn’t just monies but is good will – how can we transform lives?
  • Morality is a responsibility of all.

Panel Two: Integrating Human Rights in Financing for Sustainable Development

Panel Two addressed the creation of an international financial architecture which promotes human rights, finds solutions to the debt crisis and realizes the attainment of the SDGs.

Dr. Doerte Doemeland, Practice Manager, Global Macro and Debt Analytics, Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment, World Bank Group

  • FBOs are important when it comes to financing schools and hospitals - the nurturing of life

Ms. Lidy Nacpil, Co-coordinator, Asia-Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development

  • There is a conflict between the international financial system and human rights. Much of the activity of the finical system has to do to with products and services that can help communities.
  • The repeated cycle of debt crisis shows the problem with this system
  • A main feature of the financial system is to provide relief for severely indebted countries so they can borrow again at higher market rates – this is not right
  • We need to critically analyse how this system is making money and look at the impacts on people, communities, economies and the planet.
  • FBOs have to act as a moral compass to help encourage the change needed

Ms. Anita Thomas, Chair, NGO Committee on Financing for Development

  • Whatever is being done needs to be done in an accountable and transparent matter
  • Attracting investment should never be the main goal but instead it should be about attracting the right investment

Panel 4 Building Genuine Partnerships for Sustainable Development

Panel Four reviewed the growing role of the private sector in development finance and policy, including public-private partnerships. Panellists discussed the need for systems of accountability and transparency and explored a more nuanced definition of partnerships in funding sustainable development. They also examined the role of faith-based organizations in funding the SDGs.

Rev. Douglas Leonard, Representative to the United Nations, World Council of Churches

  • Public- private partnerships means that private investment is funding the SDGs
  • We need multi-stakeholder partnership initiatives

Ms. Athena Peralta, Programme Executive for Economic and Ecological

Justice, World Council of Churches

  • We live in a time of emergency and crisis of social economic inequalities
  • Agenda 2030 calls for enhancing global partnerships and to encourage private and public partnerships
  • The SDGs are simply unattainable without partnerships
  • Common vision and joint action – partnerships ought to be anchored on shared interests – i.e. the SDGs, reduction of inequalities
  • Partnerships need to be founded on mutual trust, respect and accountability
  • Genuine partners hold each other accountable
  • Partnerships need to be grounded on relationships – each party is founded on the common good, each one brings resources, not just financial, and each party has a place at the decision-making table
  • PPPs (private public partnerships) are being promoted to support the SDGs in areas of health, education, sanitation etc
  • PPPs are an expensive vehicle for financing compared to government borrowing
  • PPPs shift the cost to ordinary people and undermine the responsibility of governments
  • PPPs can play a role in attaining the SDGs when clearly embed in a community framework and made accountable to human rights. They also need to ascribe to high standards of transparency
  • Authentic partnerships cannot be measured, bought or driven by money

Mr. Clive Harris, Practice Manager, Infrastructure, PPPs, and Guarantees, World Bank Group      

  • The World bank has developed procedures and tools for governments to improve accountability and transparency around partnerships and PPPs

Ms. Barbara Adams, Board Chair, Global Policy Forum

  • Need to develop a responsible funding compact for the UN to look at how much is already ear marked – the UN is being turned into contractors for hire

Mr. Michael Even, Interim Chief Executive Officer, FaithInvest, Alliance of

Religion and Conservation

  • FBOs hold a lot of wealth, own land, buildings, hospital, schools, but no one knows what wealth they have
  • FBOs have huge influence in communities and a way to reach people like no other group
  • FBOsare the furthest thing from monolith – they share a lot of differences – can be very confusing to outside parties to know who stands for what
  • FBOs aren’t very transparent about their investments
  • FBOs are historically known for things they don’t like and often believe things they do like should be funded by charity not investments
  • FBOs aren’t an easy party to work with when it comes to partnering and investments as they have strong beliefs and stances on many topics

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

The Salvation Army as a large, international Faith based organisation has a responsibility to not only be accountable and transparent with its finance and governance but also to ensure any investments are not only financially viable but are sustainable and socially responsible. The Salvation Army can also use its voice to stand against financial systems that are not acting morally or with a social conscious. 

Web links for more information

Tags: SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals