Spiritual values drive individual behaviours for more than 80 per cent of people. In many countries, spiritual beliefs and religions define cultural values, social inclusion, political engagement and economic prosperity.
In 2008, the United Nations passed a resolution to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace, and established the UN Inter-agency Task Force on Religion and Development (UN IATF-FBOs) in 2010. The task force is composed of 19 United Nations organizations, including UN Environment.
The Faith for Earth Initiative
Following a series of initiatives and conventions organized in partnership with faith-based organizations, UN Environment launched the Faith for Earth Initiative in November 2017. The goal of Faith for Earth is to strategically engage with faith-based organizations and partner with them to collectively achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and fulfill the objectives of the 2030 Agenda.
Faith for Earth has three main goals: to inspire and empower faith organizations and their leaders to advocate for protecting the environment, to green faith-based organizations’ investments and assets to support the implementation of SDGs, and to provide them with knowledge and networks to enable their leaders to effectively communicate with decision-makers and the public.
“To encourage, empower and engage with faith-based organizations as partners, at all levels, toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and fulfilling the 2030 Agenda.”
A world where everything is in balance.
Shared values that spell CREATION
C: Communication – Effective communication at all levels between all stakeholders.
R: Respect – All spiritual and religious beliefs are respected.
E: Empower – Empower and engage all stakeholders.
A: Act – Act in coherence with individual reflection and communal beliefs.
T: Transform – Transform people’s behaviour for a more responsible lifestyle inspired by their own faiths.
I: Inspire –Inspire innovative approaches to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
O: Organize – Organize knowledge and other resources related to faiths and sustainable development.
N: Network – Build a strong network between the UN and faith-based organizations.
Engaging faith-based organizations as partners to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
Faith-based organizations have been recognized as key players in eradicating poverty, improving people’s health, protecting the environment and working toward sustainable development. Their agility is crucial, especially at the local level and with faith actors. FBOs are also sustainable institutions and, in recent years, policymakers have begun to engage them in environmental conservation and natural resources management.
Benefits of a Faith for Earth engagement
The networks of faith-based organizations and faith leaders cross continents and political boundaries, making it a viable and practical means to achieve sustainable development. Tapping into the spiritual wealth of people and their beliefs accelerates people’s engagement and the organizational drive to contribute. Mobilizing the financial assets and practices of faith-based funding institutions responds directly to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for financing sustainable development.
One of the most important challenges is building trust around common objectives, rather than pushing the perceived secular views of the UN. Basic principles for engagement must be established and made clear to all partners in a transparent manner. Also, the secular position of the UN provides a neutral space for interreligious and intercultural dialogue.
Faith for Earth is an equitable engagement. All major faiths, along with indigenous spirituality, are represented in a transparent and balanced manner.